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Monday, June 19, 2006
[Peretz gives green light to Qassams?]Peretz: IDF escalation would bring more Qassams on Sderot

[IMRA: No. This is not a parody. After huffing and puffing and shaking his
fists last week warning that "either there is complete quiet or there will
be a singular and overwhelming response" DM Peretz lets the Palestinians
know that his shaking fists are connected to his shaking knees.

"Israel will take further action if the terror groups do not halt their
rocket attacks shortly, Peretz said.

Peretz didn't saay how many months is "shortly".]

Peretz: IDF escalation would bring more Qassams on Sderot

By Avi Issacharoff, Gideon Alon, Yuval Azoulay, and Mijal Grinberg, Haaretz
Correspondents, and Haaretz Service 19 June 2006


Defense Minister Amir Peretz said Monday that a sharpened military response
to Palestinian rocket fire would lead to intensified bombardments of the
southern city of Sderot.

"I will do everything possible in order to avoid an escalation because it
would lead to days of Qassam barrages," Peretz said during his meeting with
President Moshe Katsav in Sderot on Monday afternoon.

Peretz was joined by President Moshe Katsav for a meeting Monday afternoon
in Sderot with bereaved families and city officials, including Mayor Eli
Moyal. The "Red Dawn" Qassam early-warning system was tripped a short time
before their meeting.

Peretz said that Israel's message to the Palestinians vis a vis the Qassam
attacks has been absorbed but that a number of extremists organizations have
yet to respond to the demand to halt the fire.

Israel will take further action if the terror groups do not halt their
rocket attacks shortly, Peretz said.

Sderot, which has borne the brunt of the Qassam strikes, prepared to seal
off its entrances and exits for 24 hours starting Tuesday to protest the
ongoing Palestinian rocket attacks.

Peretz, Moyal and Katsav met next to Peretz's Sderot home with hunger
strikers protesting the bombardments. Katsav asked them to stop their strike
and give the military time to deal with the Qassam attacks.

Peretz under fire from the right

Peretz on Monday came under fire from right-wing legislators at a Knesset
Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee session, over his policy to combat
Qassam rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

MK Effi Eitam (National Religious Party-National Union) dubbed Peretz's
policy as "cowardly," adding that the Israel Defense Forces were not
producing the necessary deterrence.

According to Eitam, Hamas and Hezbollah realize it is possible for them to
launch Qassam rockets at Israel, without incurring an appropriate IDF

Peretz reiterated at the meeting that if the Qassam attacks persist, he
intends to employ harsh measures to create a complete cessation of rocket
fire on Israel.

Earlier Monday, Moyal called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his
government to resign in the face of their failure to put an end to the
Qassam attacks on the southern town.

Speaking on Israel Radio, Moyal said that if the government is unable to
defend the town it must step down.

Justice Minister Haim Ramon, who spoke on Israel Radio after Moyal, said
that if rocket attacks were to continue, the IDF would step up the measures
used against those launching the Qassams.

Ramon said that the IDF has killed hundreds of militants engaged in firing
the rockets, but it will take more time before the attacks are halted

Sderot strike
Sderot's municipal council decided to completely bar anyone from entering or
leaving the town limits on Monday, including longtime resident Peretz.

Moyal postponed the strike, originally scheduled to begin Monday morning,
until after the Peretz-Katsav visit.

Sderot, which has been the target of sometimes daily Qassam attacks from
Gaza, was hit by another rocket Sunday evening. The Qassam landed near the
town's public library, and did not cause any casualties, according to the
Itim news agency.

Three other rockets fired from Gaza on Sunday evening landed in Palestinian
territory, Israel Radio reported.

Palestinians in Gaza fired two Qassam rockets at southern Israel in predawn
attacks Sunday, leaving parts of Sderot without electricity for several

One of the rockets hit several electricity poles in the southern town,
temporarily disrupting the power supply to the Rabin neighborhood.

The second Qassam was fired at the western Negev and landed near the border
fence. No damage or casualties were recorded in this incident.

Two Sderot residents were evacuated to Soroka Hospital in Be'er Sheva
Sunday, after collapsing during a mass hunger strike in protest over the
government's inability to halt the rocket fire. The two are said to be
receiving treatment for dehydration.

Sderot's local council decided to end the school year on Monday, starting
the summer vacation earlier than planned. The council also decided to step
up its protests and camp out in front of the government offices in

"None of the government ministers care for Sderot," Moyal said. "If the
government cannot provide the city residents with security, it should resign
or say [it cannot provide security] out rightly. The resident's are
exhausted and they cannot continue living like this without the government
doing something."

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