Defense minister sick of restraint: Defense Minister Amir Peretz on Tuesday evening briefed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on the Qassam attack in Sderot, saying that "we can no longer hold back against the Qassam fire."
Pursuant to Tuesday's attack, which left two boys moderately to severely injured, the prime minister will have an urgent defense consultation meeting even before his anticipated meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Abdel Gheit.
Olmert will hear what defense sources have to say, but seems focused on maintaining continued restraint.
In the meantime, Peretz made it clear to the prime minister that he opposes a continuing policy of restraint. Following the Qassam attack, he told Olmert "we must act against the rocket fire, we mustn't let Jihad run rampant."
Peretz intends to hold a number of meetings with defense officials in preparation for his defense consultation meeting with Olmert.
In addition to Peretz, IDF Chief of General Staff Dan Halutz, Shin Bet officials and additional members of the defense establishment are anticipated to take part in the meeting.
Qassam hit in Sderot (Photo: Raei Braunstein)
In the latest government meeting, Sunday night, Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin gave a briefing about the new security situation created in Gaza and the ongoing rocket fire.
Diskin stated at that time that rocket fire had decreased by 75 percent since the cease fire: only 50 Qassams post-ceasefire as opposed to 240 Qassams in the same time prior to the ceasefire.
However, in a sharp increase, ten rockets were fired at Israel since Monday.
Olmert: Harsh response could lead to deterioration
In recent days, government ministers appealed for an end of the policy of restraint, among them Internal Security Minister and former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Strategic Affairs Avigdor Leiberman called for an organized and well-planned response. "We must operate to bring about a cessation of rocket fire, not merely in order to calm public opinion," he emphasized.
Olmert prefers to maintain the restraint policy primarily because of the subsequent kudos such a policy receives from the international community. Additionally, he has repeatedly asked for dialogue with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The prime minister believes that a harsh response could lead to deterioration and warned the government that renewed operations could unite the Fatah and Hamas factions, who are currently still fighting, in a joint attack on Israel.
Hanan Greenberg contributed to this report