With increasing demands by Israeli government cabinet ministers to launch a large-scale operation in Gaza in order to put a stop to the Gaza bombardment on Sderot and Ashkelon, a senior Israel political source confirmed to the Israeli media on Thursday that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak secretly visited Jordan two days ago.
Mr. Olmert and Mr. Barak heard requests from Jordanian King Abdullah to refrain from attacking Gaza.
More than 60 percent of Jordan’s residents are Palestinians. King Abdullah’s fear is that if the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) should enter Gaza, they would destabilize his rule and set the kingdom on fire.
Despite King Abdullah’s urging, Mr. Olmert and Mr. Barak told the Israeli media that they explained that if the Hamas regime in Gaza continued to fire rockets at Israeli communities, Israel would no longer be able to restrain itself and would be forced to stage a large-scale operation.
After two rockets fell south of Ashkelon, the city’s residents decided to launch a series of protest activities. The residents fear that from now on, they will be the ones who will pay the price of the escalation, and their lives will become a nightmare, as happened in Sderot and its surroundings.
As a first step in the protest, the entrance to the Ashkelon junction was blocked for a few hours starting at 4:00 p.m.
However, Palestinians stepped up their activity in the south, and fired more rockets and mortar shells at the area of the Eshkol Regional Council.
This is a much larger area, with a relatively low population density, from Beeri in the north to Kerem Shalom in the south. In the past 10 days, some 50 Kassam rockets and 20 mortar shells have fallen within the council’s boundaries. In addition to the fear of IDF operations in the northern Gaza Strip, it would appear that the Palestinians’ goal is to enlarge the targeted area, where civilians are not fortified.
David Bedein can be reached at email@example.com.