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Officials: Grad fire attempt to stall talks

State officials believe Grad rocket fired from Gaza into Ashkelon was attempt by terror groups to prevent peace talks with PA; but that rocket was not fired by Hamas, which is 'still deterred by IDF, not interested in conflict'

State officials postulated Friday that the Grad rocket fire earlier in the day was an attempt by terror groups in Gaza to strike up conflict in the region ahead of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

 

They say Israel's policy of retaliating for each instance of rocket fire could further exacerbate tension and lead to an escalation of violence.

 

"Though it is still unclear who was responsible for the Grad fire, it is clear that Hamas has no interest right now in escalating tension. Hamas wants to maintain the status quo in Gaza as it is. It is not frozen, and continues to arm itself, but is still deterred by the IDF and doesn't want conflict," one senior official told Ynet.

 

The Grad rocket fired Friday morning exploded in a populated area of Ashkelon, causing eight people to sustain shock but no physical injuries.

 

The attack came just as the army was summing up data on the first half of 2010, reporting that there had been a drastic decline in the number of rockets fired towards Israel when compared to 2009.

 

The official said the IDF would most likely retaliate. The army's policy is to consider Hamas responsible for all violence in the Strip, and therefore strikes its facilities when retaliating.

 

He added that the army was prepared for another operation the likes of last year's Cast Lead, but that "we are not at that point yet".

 

Meanwhile, residents of Ashkelon remain frightened of additional attacks and shop-owners interviewed by Ynet said their business suffered Friday from an obvious lack of shoppers.

 

The city's municipality has called on the security establishment to deploy its recently completed Iron Dome missile defense system.

 

Shmulik Hadad contributed to this report

 

 


פרסום ראשון: 07.30.10, 21:03
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