IDF troops kill Palestinian in West Bank arrest operation
Peretz: IDF will act against all militants for every rocket; Ministers seek IDF control over Philadelphi Route.
Israel Defense Forces troops operating in the West Bank on Sunday killed a Palestinian man during an arrest raid near Jenin.
Mohammed Uda, 23, was killed by IDF gunfire as troops searched the village of Tamun to arrest Islamic Jihad activist Bashar Bani Uda.
Also Sunday, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired at least two Qassam rockets at the western Negev, which caused damage to farmland, but no injuries.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz said earlier Sunday that the IDF would act against all Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip whenever a rocket were fired from the area.
"There is no situation in which we examine who fired the rocket," he told world Jewish leaders in Jerusalem. "The moment it's fired into Israel, the army will act against all terror organizations without differentiating who it belonged to."
In a separate incident Sunday, a Palestinian security officer was killed in internal Palestinian violence in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian security officials said.
The man worked for Preventive Security, a security organization allied with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah faction, the officials said.
The identity of the assailants was not immediately known, but the officials linked the killing to internal Palestinian violence that has been raging in the Gaza Strip for weeks. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.
Fatah is embroiled in a feud with Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the government in the Palestinian Authority. At least 14 people have been killed in street violence between forces loyal to the rivals. Early Sunday, a Fatah activist was killed in a clash with Hamas gunmen.
Ministers call for resumed control of Philadelphi routeCabinet ministers Rafi Eitan (Pensioner's Party) and Eli Yishai (Shas) called on Sunday for a military operation to retake control of Gaza's southern border and stop Palestinian militants from smuggling in weapons from neighboring Egypt.
Last week, the IDF embarked on a major anti-smuggling operation in Gaza. Troops returned to the Philadelphi Route, a strip of land along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, for the first time since the evacuation of troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip over a year ago. Troops overtook the southern part of the Philadelphi Route, and retain control over the area. The IDF also uncovered several underground tunnels constructed for the purpose of smuggling weapons from Egypt into Gaza.
During a cabinet meeting held on Sunday, Industry and Trade Minister Yishai said, "Action must be taken without hesitation. Any hesitation is dangerous and we must act immediately."
"When we left the Philadelphi Route, I said that abandoning it is a doorway to hell," he said. "The security cabinet, or the "kitchen cabinet" [of seven key ministers] must discuss this matter now, instead of having to come up with a response plan following every Qassam attack," he added.
Pensioner's Party chairman Rafi Eitan said at the meeting that retaking control over the Philadelphi Route is necessary in order to prevent the transfer of weapons and ammunition across the border into Gaza. He said that the IDF must retain control over the Philadelphi Route for an extended period of time, but cautioned against re-occupying the remainder of the Gaza Strip.
Peretz said at the meeting that the IDF would continue its operation in Gaza.
"We gave Gaza back to the Palestinians, and now they are tempting fate. The Hamas organization is behaving wildly," said Vice Premier Shimon Peres (Kadima), referring to the governing Palestinian faction.
Israel estimates that since the withdrawal from Gaza, tons of munitions, including advanced shoulder-fired missiles, have been smuggled into Gaza from Egypt.
Earlier Sunday, Yom-Tov Samia, a reservist general on special assignment as deputy chief of the Southern Command, called for the 12-kilometer (7.5 mile) corridor to be retaken and its buffer zone widened - something that may entail razing Palestinian homes.
"The objective would be to prevent Hamas from replicating what happened with Hezbollah in Lebanon," Samia told Army Radio, referring to the difficulty met by IDF when confronted with the Hezbollah's arms supply during this summer's war in Lebanon.
"This would have to take place in the coming days or weeks," he said.
IDF curbs anti-Qassam shelling of GazaAs Prime Minister Ehud Olmert prepared to convene his security cabinet this week to discuss Israel's response to the firing of Qassam rockets and increased smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip, the IDF has almost completely stopped the controversial use of artillery fire in the Gaza Strip.
Until now, artillery has spearheaded the IDF effort to combat Qassams. The thousands of shells fired by the IDF have been aimed at open areas to avoid hitting civilians. However, a number of Palestinian civilians have been killed and dozens wounded.
The new division commander for the Gaza front, Brigadier General Moshe Tamir, believes that artillery fire does not further the goal of limiting Qassam attacks. Military sources told Haaretz that entry of infantry personnel and Armored Corps to the launch areas obviates the need for artillery for the time being.
Palestinian gunners fired two Qassams into the western Negev early on Sunday. There were no reports of injuries or damage. An anti-tank missile was fired at IDF forces over the weekend, and a total of at least 14 Qassam rockets have been fired at the Negev since Friday. A Sderot resident was slightly injured by shrapnel in the attacks.
Sources: No Israeli offensive for nowSecurity sources said Israel is not expected to embark on a military operation in the Strip before Olmert's visit to Washington scheduled to take place in three weeks.
However, calls are increasing for a widespread operation in the Strip to strike at Hamas and other Palestinian organizations' military infrastructure before they obtain additional weapons.
Defense Minister Amir Peretz has held consultations over the past few days to seek an exit from the political deadlock with the Palestinians. Peretz believes the lack of progress is dangerous for Israel, and if it continues, will lead to major Israeli military action in the Strip.
Large-scale action in Gaza will be more complex than similar action in the West Bank due to the Strip's dense population, and the security establishment fears it would result in numerous Israel Defense Forces casualties. Nevertheless, the IDF does not discount a reoccupation of the area.
At least ten Qassam rockets fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza landed in the western Negev over the weekend, lightly wounding one person.
Meanwhile, Israel Defense Forces troops continued this weekend in their operation to destroy arms-smuggling tunnels in southern Gaza.