Barak says IDF won't rush into Gaza op, after 3 hurt by Kassams
24 rockets pound South, two land next to Sderot shopping parade; IAF hits launchers; Palestinians: Man killed when missile hits balcony.
By JPOSTLEO GIOSUÈCOM STAFF, YAAKOV KATZ
Despite some 24 rockets hitting the western Negev Wednesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that Israel would not rush into an operation in Gaza.
"We are not deterred from an operation in Gaza but we are also not rushing into one," Barak said during a conference at the Institute for National Security Studies. "When there is no choice we will act when and where we see fit."
Three people were lightly wounded late Wednesday afternoon when two Kassam rocket fired by Gaza terrorists landed next to a Sderot shopping parade.
Cars and shops were also damaged in the attack, which came when hundreds of people were doing their shopping in the area.
The casualties were evacuated to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon.
Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for firing the rockets.
Following the attack, the IAF renewed air strikes against rocket squads, aiming at launchers in northern Gaza, the army said. Palestinian hospital officials said a 47-year-old man was killed when a missile hit his house and a balcony collapsed on him.
Later, four more Kassams hit the Sdot Negev region, one damaging a building, and another landed in the Sha'ar Hanegev region. No additional casualties were reported.
In response to the ongoing cease-fire breaches, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned of impending Israeli military action.
"The rocket fire is just clarifying what we've been saying all along, that we can't have a situation where supposedly there is an agreed-upon ceasefire, while the reality on the ground is completely different," Olmert said after voting in the Kadima primaries.
"Of course this demands that we address it," the prime minister continued, "And we will address it."
Trade, Industry and Labor Minister Eli Yishai also commented on the latest violations, calling for an emergency Security Cabinet session to discuss the matter and warning the terrorists in Gaza that no one was immune from an Israeli response.
"These terrorist Kassam rocket-launching cells are butchering Sderot and the communities in the Gaza periphery as if they're just shooting targets, whereas over here [some decision-makers] have turned into pillars of salt, and pillars of ice [with regards to] feelings," he said.
"Those who [try and] massacre us must know that we, too, have targets, and that nobody is immune," Yishai continued.
Earlier on Wednesday, Spokesman for the United States Military's European Command Capt. Ed Buclatin visited Sderot as the guest of IDF Spokesman Brig.-Gen. Avi Benayahu.
Buclatin was driven through Ashkelon and Sderot in an armored vehicle provided by the IDF. Military sources said that the Americans requested the vehicle due to the Kassam barrage.
US officials rejected a report that aired on Army Radio according to which Washington recently issued a directive that all US officials need to travel in armored vehicles in Sderot and Ashkelon. The officials said that each case was evaluated on an individual basis.
"This is not a sweeping directive but when there is a threat like there was today then the security instructions are to travel in an armored car," an American official explained.
Buclatin's visit comes on the heels of the deployment in September of the high-powered X-Band radar in Israel to help defend the country against Iran. The radar is operated by the European Command.
During his visit, Buclatin's met with senior IDF commanders and was briefed on the current situation in the Gaza Strip. He visited several bases, including the Nevatim Air Force Base in the south and the Navy's base in Haifa.
"This is an amazing opportunity to visit Israel, meet my counterparts, and get a first-hand understanding of the issues and challenges that the IDF Spokesperson's Unit is faced with everyday," Buclatin said.
Benayahu said the visit was important in order to exchange ideas on the way to work with the media at a time of war.
"We have extensive experience working with the media during wartime," he said. "It is clear to us all that spokesmanship is monumentally important in urban warfare and the war on terror."
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