Peretz: IDF needs to step up its attacks on Hamas

Former defense minister says army's deterrence strategy in Gaza is weakening as Kassam, mortar attacks escalate in area.

311_ amir peretz (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post))
311_ amir peretz
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post))
As violence escalated on the Gaza Strip border, Labor Party MK Amir Peretz said that the IDF deterrence strategy in the territory is beginning to weaken, reported Israel Radio on Sunday.
The former defense minister said that the military needs to step up its reactions and attacks on Hamas; adding that he trusts the IDF and its judgment.
IDF arrests Hamas men in Hebron, strikes Gaza
IAF strikes Gaza Strip in response to Kassam fire
He also concluded that Israel must make it clear to Hamas that it sees the organization as responsible for all attacks and that Israel will not allow this to continue.
Attacks on southern Israel continued Sunday morning as a rocket fired from Gaza landed in the Eshkol Regional Council area.
No one was hurt and no damage was reported in the attack.
Violence escalated over the weekend after one IDF soldier was killed, four were wounded and three foreign workers were injured in clashes with Palestinian terrorists.
On Saturday, four mortar shells fired by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza landed in a kibbutz in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, wounding three foreign agricultural workers – one of them seriously.
The armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the al-Quds Brigades, took responsibility for mortar fire that injured three agricultural workers on Saturday.
In a statement on its website, the group said that "it is the resistance's right to act against any Zionist aggression against our people." It continued, "We will take the path of resistance and jihad until all our lands are freed," Channel 10 reported.
One shell struck a building housing the workers, who were employed by the kibbutz.
One worker, from Thailand, was reported to have sustained serious injuries and was also being treated at Soroka.
Toward the evening, an additional mortar shell fired from Gaza landed in an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council. No injuries or damages were reported.
At night, a Kassam rocket fired from Gaza also landed in an open area in the same region. No injuries or damages were reported in this incident either.
A second Kassam was fired within an hour of the first incident, also falling in the same region, and lightly wounding a truck driver who sustained shrapnel injuries from glass in his face. The driver was evacuated to Soroka by his son. His vehicle was damaged in the attack.
Sgt. Nadav Rotenberg, from the Paratroopers Brigade, was killed Friday evening during a maneuver to prevent Palestinian terrorists from planting explosive devices along the border. His funeral was set to take place in his home town of Ramot Hashavim on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.
According to an initial inquiry, another IDF unit, which arrived at the scene, fired mortars at the terrorists, one of which deviated from its target by about 300 meters, striking and killing Rotenberg, who was standing about 80 meters from the border with Gaza and still inside Israeli territory.
The Palestinian cell laid an ambush for an IDF patrol and opened fire when the troops from Battalion 202 of the Paratroopers Brigade drove by.
Rotenberg was part of the force that responded immediately to the situation.
Four soldiers were wounded in the mortar attack and were evacuated to Soroka Hospital in Beersheba.
Three Palestinians were believed to have been hit by IDF fire during the exchange but they succeeded in escaping.
OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Tal Russo launched an immediate inquiry into the incident and concluded that Rotenberg was most likely killed by friendly fire. Last month, another soldier was wounded in a friendly fire incident and in March a soldier was killed by IDF gunfire as well.
The IDF decided to ground the Keshet guided mortar system that was used to fire the mortars that hit Rotenberg and his unit due to suspicion that a technical malfunction caused the weapon to deviate from its designated course. The Keshet system, also called the Cardom, is mounted on a modified M113 armored personnel carrier and fires 120-mm. mortars using an autonomous computerized system.
Russo decided to ground the system until the malfunction, if one is identified, can be repaired. Last month, a shell also deviated from its course during a training exercise in the South.
Russo visited the Kibbutz Sha'ar Hanegev and promised that the IDF would respond to the mortar attack. “We will take care of those who are responsible,” he said.
The violence over the weekend came after two Palestinians were shot and killed by the IDF on Thursday while trying to infiltrate into Israel. On Thursday, the Israeli Air Force bombed a number of targets throughout Gaza.
Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.