MKs blame Kassam attacks on government and Egypt

MK Levy: Sderot residents are paying with their lives as a result of the disengagement.

shai hermesh 298.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
shai hermesh 298.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Officials from across the political spectrum scrambled to cast blame Wednesday for the day-long Kassam attacks that pounded the south of Israel, killing one woman in Sderot. MK Shai Hermesh (Kadima) said in response to the rocket firing Wednesday morning that "the source of the terrorism is because the Egyptian army turns a blind eye as a constant supply of arms flows into the Strip under their nose." On Tuesday, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) Chief Yuval Diskin told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that more than 33 tons of high-grade explosives material and a dozen rocket-launchers had been smuggled into the Gaza Strip since the disengagement. "The quest after the Kassams is like the Dutch boy who plugged the hole with his finger," added Hermesh. "We must demand international pressure on the Egyptian government for it to hold up its commitments to effective oversight of the border crossings from Sinai into the Strip." Echoing the words of many of his colleagues from the right-wing parties, MK Yitzhak Levy (National Union - National Religious Party) blamed the Kassams on last summer's disengagement from the Gaza Strip. "The residents of Sderot are paying with their lives for the security abandonment of the disengagement and for the severe security neglect of the government, which is stuttering and hesitant and doesn't manage to solve the problem of the Kassams," said Levy. MK Limor Livnat (Likud), who on Tuesday lashed out at the government for failing to stop the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip, continued her attack on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government. "What happened this morning in Sderot is decisive proof that there is no political or military leadership in Israel. In the absence of leadership we find ourselves in one of the most difficult times we have ever known," said Livnat. "When half of the cabinet is in Los Angeles, we can't expect a preventative action to protect the residents of Sderot during these difficult times." Others in the Likud, including MKs Yuval Steinitz and Dan Naveh, urged the government to launch a strong military operation in the Gaza Strip. "Every day that goes by without a wide operation creates the feeling that what applies to Tel Aviv does not apply to Sderot," said Naveh. "The State of Israel will pay a heavier price in human lives if we don't act immediately." MK Zvi Hendel (NU-NRP) added to Naveh's statement, saying that Olmert would move to stop the Kassam attacks "only if a rocket fell on Tel Aviv." Knesset members from the Arab factions immediately sent out statements condemning the Kassam attacks, while urging the government to stop the cycle of violence. "Innocent civilians are killed in these ongoing operations, so I call on both sides to declare a cease-fire and go back to negotiations," said MK Taleb a-Sanaa (United Arab List - Ta'al). Members of the Hadash faction attended the funeral of Fatima Slutsker, the woman who was killed by the Kassam attack, and met with Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal. Following the meeting, MK Muhammad Barakei said Moyal had told him that the residents of Sderot were not interested in revenge, they only wanted to "live in peace."