Photo: AP
Mofaz says Palestinians must end attacks
Photo: AP

Mofaz to Abbas: Halt fire

Defense minister tells Palestinian Authority chairman Israel cannot accept continued mortar attacks in Gaza Strip. Phone conversation between two figures characterized as "long and incisive"

TEL AVIV - In what was characterized as a "long and incisive" phone conversation, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas he must act to end mortar attacks in the Gaza Strip.


Since Saturday, more than 70 mortar shells were fired at Gaza settlements and army posts, killing a horse and damaging two buildings.


Israel will not accept an escalation in Gaza, Mofaz told Abbas during their conversation Sunday. The defense minister demanded that Abbas dispatch additional security forces to areas used to launch mortar shells and noted that all terror groups are taking part in the attacks.


The Palestinian leader "must halt the fire and arrest those behind it because there is no other way," Mofaz told Abbas.


Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who landed in the United States Sunday, said the mortar fire would play a prominent role in his meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush.


The mortar attacks constitute a "blatant violation" of understandings reached at the Sharm el-Sheikh summit, Sharon said.


'Abbas not delivering goods'


The situation in the Palestinian Authority is such that nobody wants to assume responsibility before the upcoming elections for the Palestinian parliament, officials close to Sharon said.


"The only ones in the game are the Americans and the Israelis," one official said. "Abu Mazen (Abbas) is weak and is not delivering the goods."


Meanwhile, the Palestinians have noted the IDF has refrained from responding to Palestinian attacks, despite the massive mortar fire and Palestinian infiltration attempts.


"Apparently an order came from top echelons in Israel to refrain from escalating the situation," a Palestinian security officer told Ynet.


The Palestinian Authority views the mortar attacks as a natural response to the killing of three Palestinians youngsters by IDF troops, the officer said.


Sources close to Abbas said Israel should not be blaming the Palestinians for the violence and noted the mortar offensive would not have materialized had the three Palestinian boys not been killed.


פרסום ראשון: 04.10.05, 22:24
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