Jerusalem – Shaike Shaked, a farmer from the agricultural Moshav community of Netiv Haasara, just north of Gaza, gave his family clear instructions as to what to when they hear a siren that warns them that a mortar shell has been fired.

“The moment you hear the first mortar shell, run to the basement. The second mortar will be more accurate.”

On Tuesday, that order saved the life of his family. The grandmother, daughter and granddaughter escaped one second before a mortar shell wrecked the living room.

The Shaked family were watching television Tuesday afternoon, when they suddenly heard a sound with which they were already familiar – a mortar being fired in their direction.

Mr. Shaked’s wife Etti, his daughter Yoni, 15, and his 10 month-old granddaughter rushed into the reinforced concrete basement, as they had practiced scores of times in the past.

The fragments flew straight into the living room and destroyed almost everything there. “Their lives were saved,” Mr. Shaked said. “I am very angry with the Israeli army for not reacting immediately and for postponing the large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip which everybody knows is going to come soon.”

A great deal of damage was also caused by a mortar shell to the hothouse of Ovadia Kedar. “I stand here in the ruins of my hothouse and ask Attorney General Meni Mazuz whether residents living around the Gaza Strip have the same rights as Palestinians or not. We were lucky that not one of my 13 workers was in the hothouse at the time, otherwise it would have ended in tragedy.”

Altogether seven mortar shells were fired yesterday, five of them at Netiv Haasara. In addition, three Kassam rockets were fired.

One of them struck a house in Kibbutz Saad, but nobody was hurt.

Israel Escalating Activity In Gaza Strip

Yesterday, Israel attacked a station of the Hamas police in Khan Yunis.

As strange as this may sound, until Tuesday, at the instructions of the chief of staff, the IDF was careful not to attack the air police stations and major headquarters of Hamas in Gaza. These targets are very tempting, but the top army brass have been careful not to cross this line, since it is tantamount to an invitation to prolonged volleys of Kassam rockets and long days of battle that could drag the IDF into the Gaza Strip at a timing that is not convenient for Israel.

The Israeli army is prepared to enter the Gaza Strip. The orders exist.

However, a massive military incursion and taking control of parts of the Gaza Strip prior to the Annapolis conference are contrary to Israel’s interests.

Therefore, attacking targets such as the police station now, before the conference, is not just another regular operation, it is a kind of declaration. This is a deliberate, demonstrative crossing of another red line. Israel is in effect announcing that it is willing to take the risk and act in a way that could lead to an overall deterioration. Now we are waiting to see how Hamas will react to this move.

Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak observed an IDF exercise on Tuesday. “We are liable to find ourselves in the coming weeks or months in a large-scale operation in Gaza,” he said with reference to the situation in the Gaza Strip. “Each day that passes brings us closer to an operation. We would be glad if circumstances would succeed in preventing it.”

On Tuesday night, Palestinian sources said that four Hamas members who serve in the organization’s Executive Force were killed in the Israeli bombing. IDF sources said that the bombing was carried out following the escalation in mortar shell fire at Netiv Haasara and at Israeli communities in the Gaza perimeter. It should be noted that since last Wednesday, 24 Palestinians have been killed by Israel.

Meanwhile, over two years since his last appearance, the commander of Hamas’ military wing (the Iz a Din al-Kassam Brigades), Mohammed Deif, issued a threatening message to Israel: “If Israel does not put a stop to the assassination policy – the [military] wing will renew suicide bombings inside Israel.” The threats attributed to Mr. Deif were conveyed by a Hamas spokesman in Khan Yunis, Sheikh Nimer Hamaud. He said that Mr. Deif told him: “We will start attacking Israel on its territory in a few weeks. We will not settle for a defensive policy, and will very soon shift to an offensive policy.” Mr. Deif has been on the list of Palestinians wanted by the American government for murder, ever since he took credit for the kidnap and murder of an American/Israeli citizen, Nachshon Wachsman, in October 1994. When President Bill Clinton came to Israel in March 1996, Esther and Yehudah Wachsman, Nachshon’s parents, met Mr. Clinton at Nachshon’s grave in Jerusalem. After that encounter, Mr. Clinton allegedly gave orders to the CIA to pursue and arrest Mr. Deif. However, Mr. Deif has never been apprehended. In July 1996, a senior official of the Palestinian security services told this reporter that the head of the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah, the late Yassir Arafat, was protecting Mr. Deif and not allowing him to be arrested.

©The Bulletin 2007

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.