In a time where the IDF is not returning fire, the Palestinians are firing more and more Qassams. Information collected by the defense establishment reveals that since the ceasefire began about a month ago, Palestinian gunmen have launched more than 50 Qassam rockets towards Sderot, Ashkelon, and the western Negev communities.
Dozens of additional rockets fell in open Palestinian areas or in the sea.
A few days before the end of 2006, the situation regarding Qassam fire towards Israel does not signal a shift in trends, despite the relative calm.
Information collected by the defense establishment indicates that only during the months of June, July, and November more rockets were fired than in this month of calm. In contrast, during the months of February, April, August, and September, the months where there was no calm, there were less Qassam attacks than during the ceasefire.
The Israel Defense Forces is asserting, therefore, that there is no connection between the IDF's activities in Gaza and the number of Qasams fired at Israel as retaliation for those activities.
In all security discussions conducted recently, there was a noticeable trend of the IDF command and of Defense Minister Amir Peretz to change the current equation and to act in a targeted manner against the Qassam launchers. However, today the IDF is continuing to act based on the instructions of the political echelon to hold all fire.
The fear in the defense establishment is that the Qassam attacks will bring further casualties, which will necessitate a shift in action; therefore there is a need to act now and not wait for a situation where Israel will act in retaliation to a severe incident.
Ashkelon: Qassam hits strategic facility
Monday brought with it more attacks as Palestinian gunmen launched Qassams from northern Gaza, which landed in the industrial area in Ashkelon, hitting a strategic facility. No injuries were reported, but a number of structures at the site were damaged.
Workers at the facility said the security officer at the site was alerted of the incoming rocket by beeper, as the Color Red alert system in Ashkelon is not operational.
“We were told on the speaker system to enter protected areas,” one employee said. “We heard a blast – it was relatively short. We returned fairly quickly to our work stations.”
Following the hit Monday morning by a Qassam in Ashkelon, many government ministers called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to end his policy of restraint.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz agreed with the calls for a response, saying, "We must operate against Qassam fire and rocket launching cells if we identify them before or after shooting. We must not let these cells get away."
Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman (Israel Our Home) told Ynet, "The State of Israel must act against the Qassams in a well-planned and organized manner.
"We must not respond merely in order to appease the public. Such an operation must cause a cessation of the Qassam fire plaguing the residents of Ashkelon, Sderot and the western Negev," he emphasized