The attack on the western Galilee is a grave occurrence, but it will not lead Israel to alter its policy at the northern border, said Defense Minister Ehud Barak Tuesday morning following the Katyusha attack on Shlomi.
“This is a serious and rare occurrence, but it will not lead us to alter the status quo,” said Barak.
The defense minister also noted that Israel “would study the circumstances surrounding this event, think things over and make decisions. We will do what we have to do.”
Officers of The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) arrived Tuesday at the site where the rockets made landfall to launch an investigation into this incident.
The minister in charge of the Galilee and Negev portfolio, Jacob Edery, toured the Galilee Tuesday morning and responded to the rocket attack on Shlomi, stating that “we are looking into the matter in earnest, and hold the Lebanese government responsible for this incident.”
Edery also noted that “there is a multi-national task force operating in the region which is supposed to combat such attacks. It appears that the various terror organizations are trying to ‘heat up’ the northern and southern fronts prior to US President George W. Bush’s visit Wednesday in order to remind the world of their existence.”
Chairman of the Shlomi Local Council, Gabi Ne’eman, was enraged by the rocket attack on the town. “We refuse to become another Sdeort. It is unthinkable that rockets land in our town and yet the government does nothing. A Katyusha attack like this cannot remain unreciprocated.”
Ne’eman deemed the rocket attack an “escalation in violence” and noted that it is through sheer miracle alone that no one was seriously injured. “It’s not for me to say whether the government should respond politically or militarily, but it must contend with both the Lebanese government and Hizbullah, who are responsible for these attacks.”
Ne’eman also noted that, for now, the town has gone back to its typical routine, and has not been ordered by security officials to heighten its vigilance.
'The relative quiet up north is illusory'For residents of northern Israel, Tuesdays attack served as a grim reminder of the barrage of rocket fire that the region had endured throughout the Second Lebanon War.
Eitan Davidi, secretary of Moshav Margaliot, located at the Lebanese border, does not expect the IDF to launch a military operation in retaliation for these attacks, but urges government officials to note the gravity of the situation at hand.
“We northern residents are very familiar with this scenario. Prior to the publication of the Winograd Commission findings we urge government officials to remember that although the southern front is proving tortuous at the moment, the relative quiet up north is illusory. Incidents in northern Israel could propel the entire region into a very dangerous situation,” he said.
Elimelech also stated that “the UN and the Arab world must condemn this attack and realize that Israel might not overlook another such incident. We cannot let Hizbullah reach the border again like they did in 2006.”
Hagai Einav contributed to this article