Photo: Tsafrir Abayov
Katz: Bomb Gaza
Photo: Tsafrir Abayov

Katz: Bomb Strip, make Gazans flee

While IDF continues to mull reaction to rocket strikes, agriculture minister wants to see Gazans flee to Sinai

Extreme solution? Israel should bomb the Gaza Strip and force residents in some areas to flee to the Sinai desert in Egypt, Agriculture Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) proposed in response to ongoing Qassam rocket attacks from Gaza.


Meanwhile, IDF officials continue to deliberate on the proper reaction to the persistent rocket strikes.


The army said it has plans for naval, air and ground maneuvers to halt the fire, with some security officials forecasting an escalation in Qassam fire.


On Tuesday three rockets fell on Sderot and Ashkelon, where a rocket landed in an army base.


Katz told Ynet, “The government has to adopt a more useful deterrence policy. If there is no calm here there will be no calm there. If the options are that Israeli southern communities suffer rocket fire or Gazans flee to Sinai under Israeli bombardment, I prefer the second option.”


“I never said we should hit civilian population centers, yet there is no escape from hitting launching sites, even if they are situated among civilian populations, as long as we warn the population that we are about to fire,” Katz said.


“The State of Israel said upon the pullout from Gaza that it will respond severely to Qassam fire on its citizens,” he added.


“It was the chief of staff who said Israel has mortars, too. We are not acting on our words and Israel has lost its deterrence capability in Gaza. We have to reverse the situation at all cost,” Katz said.


The minister added he is opposed to a ground operation, citing the high casualty toll the IDF would suffer.


“However, I believe we need to activate all the measures at our disposal. We should follow the formula: ‘The more extreme you become, we will become more extreme.’”


'Bush supportive of Israel's right to self-defense'


Katz refuted claims that Israel’s military options are limited in light of U.S. pressure, saying the administration of President George W. Bush is more supportive of Israel right to self-defense than any other administration or country.


Katz’s proposed solution to Qassam fire drew a series of condemnations from political figures. Former Shin Bet chief and Labor candidate Ami Ayalon criticized Katz, saying diplomatic negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and an eventual agreement would guarantee a solution to Qassam fire.


However, Katz responded to his critics in kind.


“I would like to ask what Ami Ayalon would do if his family was living in Sderot or Ashkelon and exposed to Qassam fire. It is an unbearable situation. The responsibility falls on the State of Israel, which promised to do everything against Qassam fire when it approved the disengagement. It is better to fire at launching sites and have Gazans leave than Sderot residents leave,” he said.


Hanan Greenberg, Ronny Sofer, and Ali Waked contributed to the report


פרסום ראשון: 12.21.05, 11:50
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