Public Defense Min.: IDF must expand action to stop Qassams
By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent and Haaretz Service – 13:51 15/11/2006
Public Defense Minister Avi Dichter (Kadima) said Wednesday morning that Israel's political echelon must instruct the Israel Defense Forces to eliminate all Qassam rocket fire using any means necessary, regardless of the risk to soldiers' safety.
Dichter's comment was made in response to Wednesday's deadly Qassam strike on the western Negev city of Sderot.
"The political echelon should have and still must issue an order to do everything possible to end the Qassam fire from Gaza into Israel," Dichter said Wednesday. "Unfortunately, there isn't such an order. The current IDF operation is not sufficient. The operation must be expanded," he added.
Minister Eitan Cabel (Labor) also called for a rigorous response to the continuous Qassam rocket fire. "The IDF and the defense establishment must operate with sternness and clarity, although it is likely that the rockets will continue to fall despite any operation," he said.
MK Danny Naveh (Likud) said that the current policy discriminates against the residents of southern Israel. "Every day that goes by without a widespread action (to stop the Qassam fire) creates the impression that the fate of Sderot is not the fate of Tel Aviv," he said, referring to the probability that if rockets were to rain upon Tel Aviv, the response would have been more forceful.
"Israel will pay dearly with human lives if it doesn't take action immediately," he added.
MK Yitzhak Levy (National Religious Party-National Union) said that the residents of Sderot are paying with their lives for the recklessness of having evacuated Gaza during the disengagement.
MK Dov Hanin (Hadash) said "The shedding of the blood of civilians, be it in Beit Hanun or in Sderot, must stop immediately."
"The path of violence and force has led us to a dead end, and the only viable option is to open up the channels of negotiation," he added.
MK Taleb a-Sana (Ra'am ? Ta'al) offered his condolences to the family of Wednesday's rocket strike victim, and wished a speedy recovery to the wounded. He called on both Israel and the Palestinians to cease the violence and return to the negotiating table.