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Qassam fired Wednesday
Photo: Amir Cohen
IDF: Next 24 hours critical to ceasefire's future
Defense sources say rocket fire on western Negev expected on heels of IDF op in Gaza; add Israel's tolerance wearing thin, military will react if fire continues. Hamas reportedly asks Islamic Jihad to refrain from launching rockets, escalating situation

The next 24 hours will be crucial to ceasefire's future, a source in the defense establishment told Ynet on Wednesday night, adding that the "IDF is preparing for every possible scenario."

 

The defense establishment is closely monitoring the escalation noted in the southern front, as dozens of Qassam rockets and mortar shells were fired at Israel on Wednesday, in retaliation to the IDF's operation in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday night.

 

The latest Qassam rocket was fired at Israel at 10 pm, landing near the security fence. No injuries or damage were reported in the shooting, which was claimed by Islamic Jihad's al-Quds Brigades.

 

The defense establishment attempted to play down the unusual military operation, carried out some 270 yards into the Strip. Six soldiers were wounded during the operation, two moderately and four mildly.

 

The IDF stressed that the operation, dubbed "Operation Double Dare," was a surgical one, meant to curb an imminent threat. Israel, reiterated the military, has no intention of ending the ceasefire agreement, signed with the militant groups in Gaza in June. 

 

As for the intense Qassam fire on the western Negev, a defense establishment source said that "while we expected Hamas to retaliate, we will not allow the rocket fire to become a patter. If the rocket fire does not stop, we will respond as we see fit."

 

Security sources added that Israel believed the rocket fire to be a limited, although broad, response to the operation, since Hamas has no interest in seeing the situation escalate once again.

 

A Palestinian source told Ynet that Hamas has asked Islamic Jihad to refrain from firing any more Qassam rockets at Israel. The Islamist group, it is believed, will be able to put a stop to rocket fire emanating from Gaza within a matter hours.

 

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the defense establishment to keep the goods crossings between Israel and Gaza closed on Thursday as well, in light of the continued rocket fire from the Strip.

 

Shmulik Hadad and Ali Waked contributed to this report

 


First published: 11.05.08, 23:57
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