50 Kassams pound Sderot, Negev

Botched air strike kills three in Gaza; Barak: "We will do everything possible to stop terrorism."

Sderot Kassam 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
Sderot Kassam 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
More than 50 Kassam rockets pounded Sderot and the western Negev on Wednesday - one day after 19 Palestinians were killed in IDF operations in the Gaza Strip - as the army continued its operations against Gaza rocket squads. One Sderot resident was lightly wounded and 14 were treated for shock. Defense Minister Ehud Barak promised to step up operations in Gaza if the rocket barrages continued. "We will do everything possible to stop terrorism, and if it becomes necessary, we will escalate our operations in Gaza to strike at those terror squads that are trying to harm us," Barak said during a navy ceremony in Haifa. Defense officials said Hamas was responsible for the dramatic increase in Kassam attacks. While Hamas has previously assisted Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees in the production and transport of Kassams, it has refrained from direct participation in firing them. "There is a war going on in Gaza every day," IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said told Jerusalem high school students on Wednesday. "There is no perfect solution to the Kassam rocket fire, and we may need to expand our operations... We will continue to take action and do whatever it takes to stop the fire." On Wednesday afternoon, a missile fired by an IAF aircraft at a car carrying Islamic Jihad gunmen missed its target and killed three civilians. Relatives identified the dead as 12-year-old Amir Yazagi, his father, Muhammad, and his uncle Amr, said Dr. Moaiya Hassanain of the Gaza Health Ministry. Hamas spokesman Taher Nunu called the attack "a new crime," saying Israel was "killing more and more of our innocent people and our freedom fighters." The IDF confirmed it had carried out the strike and expressed regret over the deaths of the civilians, stressing, however, the cynical use terrorists make of civilians by operating from within population centers. The botched air strike came after months of accuracy on the part of the IAF. In the two months before Wednesday's incident, over 50 terrorists have been killed from the air without a single civilian casualty. Earlier in the day, two terrorists were killed moments after firing a Kassam rocket at Israel, and in the evening, IAF aircraft bombed a car laden with explosives and weapons near the el-Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, killing two Palestinians. AP contributed to this report.