Chief Palestinian Negotiator: Israeli Attacks on Gaza Make Region More Volatile

Saeb Erekat warns that IDF attack on the Hamas-ruled territory would only elevate anarchy, bloodshed in area; Deputy PM Meridor says Israel won't tolerate rocket fire from Gaza.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Wednesday that the Palestinian Authority is wary of an Israeli attack on Gaza, warning that such a move would only complicate matters further, Israel Radio reported.

Erekat said that an Israel Defense Forces attack on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip would only elevate the anarchy and the bloodshed in the area.

"Military solutions such as these won't attain a thing and would only complicate the situation," Erekat warned.

Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor (Likud) told Army Radio on Wednesday that Israel will not tolerate occasional rocket fire from Gaza and said he hoped there would be no need for an additional military operation such as Operation Cast Lead.

Gaza war, AP, 2009
AP / Archive

Meridor said that lately Hamas has not been doing enough in order to prevent other organizations in Gaza from firing rockets into Israel's Negev towns. He said that Israel will continue responding aggressively until all rocket fire from Gaza ceases.

Meanwhile, IDF officials said Wednesday that Israel will deploy tanks equipped with a miniature missile-defense system along the Gaza Strip border in the coming weeks now that Palestinian militants are using a sophisticated, tank-piercing missile.

Violence has been escalating along the Gaza border in recent weeks, and IDF chief Gabi Ashkenazi disclosed on Tuesday that militants from the Palestinian coastal strip had for the first time fired a Kornet missile earlier this month and that it penetrated an Israeli tank.

Gaza's Hamas rulers have not confirmed or denied possessing the missiles.
Israeli officials say the Iranian-backed Gaza militants who once relied on crude, locally made projectiles, have steadily acquired more powerful and accurate missiles produced overseas.

The IDF officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss such matters publicly, alleged the laser-guided Kornet had come from Iran.

They provided no proof and it was not clear how the missiles were delivered. Hamas, which has close ties with Iran, controls a network of smuggling tunnels along Gaza's southern border with Egypt.