Jerusalem – Yesterday morning, once again, the inhabitants of the Israeli city of Sderot awoke to the call of the Color Red warning system. At approximately 6:30 a.m., Palestinians fired three Kassam rockets that landed near communities in the Shaar Hanegev.
IDF officials hastened to respond, and in the Beit Hanoun region in northern Gaza, the Israeli air force located and attacked the cell that had launched the rockets a short while after it launched them at territory belonging to the state of Israel. On Saturday, 13 mortar shells, including three that fell inside communities in the northwestern Negev, were fired at the western Negev communities.
The IDF responded on Saturday to the mortar shell fire with an attack on a Hamas position in the southern Gaza Strip, killing one terrorist and wounding three others. The attack occurred near the organization’s headquarters, between Khan Yunis and Rafah.
Meanwhile, the Lebanese newspaper Al Akhbar reported that the American administration has given Israel a “green light” to begin a broad operation in the Gaza Strip. According to the report, which is based on diplomatic sources, American approval was given after Jerusalem sent intelligence reports explaining the importance of a large-scale military operation.
Will Not Act Against Terrorism
According to Jamal Muhaysin, governor of the Nablus district, Palestinian troops deployed on Friday in coordination with the U.S. to fight terrorism have refused to collect weapons from wanted men moving about in the city. The Nablus political leader said, “We will rehabilitate the terrorists [in his words, ‘the weapons of resistance’] who are on the list of wanted men and will remain in their hands until they arrange their status fully with the Israeli side.” He was referring to the clemency that Israel intends to grant to the terrorists who surrender their weapons to the Palestinian Authority. That clemency has not yet been granted because only a very few terrorists agreed to the proposal.
Last Friday morning, 308 members of the Palestinian general security service, which makes up the elite officers the Palestinian army, were deployed in Nablus. This was the first deployment in which 200 additional Palestinian fighters will participate during the week.
This is being done as a result of an agreement between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Fatah’s Palestinian prime minister, Salam Fayyad.
According to the agreement, the Palestinian police will be responsible for keeping order from 6 a.m. to midnight, but security control in the city will remain in the hands of the IDF. Military sources say that the IDF remains responsible for security in Nablus, and the deployment of Palestinian police will not interfere with the IDF’s ongoing activity, which will continue to act to prevent terror attacks without hindrance.
Rice Tried To Draft Joint Statement For Annapolis Conference
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice came back to the region once again, this time to tie up loose ends in advance of the Annapolis conference later this month.
Under the aegis of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, founded by Israeli American tycoon and toymaker Haim Saban, Ms. Rice met with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and with Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Fayyad and other senior Palestinian officials.
The ostensible purpose of Ms. Rice’s visit was to settle the final details in advance of the Annapolis conference, which is scheduled to be held on Nov. 26, and to formulate the final wording of the joint statement that the two parties intend to make at the conference.
Israel demands that the commencement of dialogue with the Palestinians be a first phase and a starting point only. Israel is opposed to setting a timetable and is demanding progress in keeping with the road map, which obliges the Palestinians to combat terrorism and to stop violence. The Palestinians are demanding that a timetable be set in advance for achieving an agreement.
After 24 hours in Israel, sources close to Secretary Rice indicated that she was unable to bridge these gaps between the Israeli and Palestinian positions.
©The Bulletin 2007