IDF Will Strike at Islamic Jihad, but Wants Calm to Persist

The Israel Defense Forces will act against the Gazan terror infrastructure of the Islamic Jihad, it was decided yesterday, following a consultation between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz, Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter, as well as heads of the IDF and the Shin Bet security service. Islamic Jihad is the organization that took responsibility for Monday's terror attack in Eilat. At the same time, it was decided that Israel will otherwise maintain the cease-fire and policy of "calm" in the Gaza Strip.

According to government sources in Jerusalem, all of the participants in the meeting addressed the internal situation in the Palestinian Authority and the struggle between Fatah and Hamas, saying that Israel has no vested interest in uniting the various battling factions against it. In existing conditions, Israel does not wish to upset the cease-fire with an extensive military operation.

Over the coming weeks, Olmert plans to consider the securing of the border with Egypt, through which the suicide bomber penetrated into Israel. Defense Minister Amir Peretz said that steps to secure the routes to Eilat, and the area surrounding it, will be implemented immediately.

The Israel Air Force bombarded a building in the Gaza Strip yesterday, situated near the Karni crossing on the border with Israel. The attack was carried out after the receipt of intelligence regarding a tunnel at the site that was to be used to smuggle terrorists and explosive devices from Gaza into Israel.

The building was destroyed in the attack, with no injuries reported. IDF sources said that there was no connection between the air strike and the Eilat bombing, adding that the decision on the air-raid - a relatively rare occurrence since the start of the cease-fire two months ago - was based on the urgent need to prevent the use of the tunnel for purposes of terror.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz said on Monday that he had instructed the IDF to increase its activity against terror organizations in response to the attack in Eilat. At this stage, it appears that the security forces will not reinstate a broad policy of targeted assassinations of terror activists.

Investigation of the attack in Eilat raised the suspicion that the suicide bomber had crossed the Israeli-Egyptian border at a point farther south than originally believed. On Monday the IDF had thought that the suicide bomber, Muhammad Siqsiq, who was sent by a joint network of Islamic Jihad and the militant arm of Fatah, had penetrated into Israel about 20 kilometers north of Eilat. It is now believed that he entered two kilometers north of Eilat, near where he was picked up by an Israeli as he hitched a ride. There is no evidence that the bomber received any assistance in Eilat, nor that he had an accomplice after entry into Israel.