Peretz: IDF will strike Kassam cells

Islamic Jihad claims responsibility for attack that struck Sderot apartment.

kassam rocket 298.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
kassam rocket 298.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Defense Minister Amir Peretz woke up Wednesday to the sound of Kassam rockets landing just meters from his home in the southern town of Sderot and vowed to take swift action to prevent additional rocket fire. Four Kassam rockets landed in the Western Negev Wednesday morning with two striking homes in Sderot, one landing in an open field and the fourth landing inside the nearby kibbutz of Or Haner. Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attacks. Two people suffered from shock after their Sderot apartment building - not far from Peretz' home - was struck by a rocket. The attacks came 24 hours after an elite IDF unit operated on the ground for the first time in Gaza since disengagement and killed four Islamic Jihad operatives in the midst of setting up Kassam rocket launchers. In response to Wednesday's attack, IDF artillery cannons pounded Kassasm launch sites in the northern Gaza Strip. Peretz, who was shaken awake by the sound of the Red Dawn Kassam alarm, postponed his trip to Jerusalem where he was scheduled to participate in the first meeting of the security cabinet and instead visited the home of his neighbor Moti Ashkenazi, 50 meters from his own home and struck by one of the rockets. "I was supposed to go to the security cabinet meeting but ten minutes before I was set to wake up I heard the Red Dawn alarm go off and then a large explosion," Peretz recalled Wednesday. "Unfortunately this is not the first time that Kassam rockets have fallen next to my home." The IDF, Peretz said, would continue utilizing all of the resources at its disposal to curb the rocket fire including additional ground operations deep inside the Gaza Strip. "I am a man of peace but no one should disillusion themselves into thinking that we will go easy on Kassam launchers," he said as he surveyed the damage caused to his neighbor's home. "We will take action that will prevent these terrorists from succeeding in launching Kassams at Israel." OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Gallant joined the defense minister in asserting that the IDF was making great efforts to prevent terror cells from launching rockets at Israel. While some attacks did succeed, Galant said that the IDF had noted a decrease in both the number and accuracy of the rockets. The IDF, the Jerusalem Post has learned was is in the midst of developing new technology capable of granting better protection to the Gaza-belt communities against the homemade and primitive Kassam rockets. The technology would defend the communities from the rocket fire as well as have the ability to attack terror cells on the ground before they launch the rockets. "We will find the way to take actions that prevent these organizations from firing toward Sderot and other communities," Peretz said Wednesday. "Therefore I hope that the [Palestinian] population understands that these organizations are bringing them toward a catastrophe." Ashkenazi, whose home was damaged by the rocket, said that Kassams have become a part of life in Sderot. "With time, the senses dull a bit and we continue with our daily routine" he said. "Subconsciously, we know that when it falls on the right and falls on the left one day it will [also] strike our home." Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal urged the government to take action against the rockets that have plagued his city for years. In interviews he asserted that the solution was not occasional military activity, but rather "either decimating the area from where the launches take place, or controlling the area." "Only war, face-to-face" will solve the problem, not security rooms or government funding, he stated. Citing the United States activity in Afghanistan, as well as French and British precedents, Moyal insisted that "No sane country would stand for its sovereignty being violated ten times a day, while it strikes against open areas." Meanwhile Wednesday, Israeli Navy warships blew ten empty Palestinian fishing boats out of the water after they were spotted crossing into Israeli waters from the Gaza Strip.