During a special session of the Israeli security cabinet that took place yesterday, Israeli officials announced they had taken a positive view toward an Egyptian-French cease-fire proposal.
They issued an official announcement stating: “Israel thanks Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and French President Nicolas Sarkozy for their efforts to advance a solution for halting terrorist actions from Gaza and the smuggling of war materiel into Gaza from Egypt. Israel views as positive the dialogue between Egyptian and Israeli officials in order to advance these issues.”
As of 4 p.m. local time yesterday, the news headlines on all Israeli radio, TV and news sites proclaimed, “Israel had accepted the cease-fire.”
However, 20 minutes later at 4:20 p.m., during the televised funeral of Israeli soldier Staff Sgt. Alexander Mashvitzky, 21, of Beersheba, who was killed during fighting in the Gaza Strip, air-raid sirens warned BM-21 Grad rockets were headed toward Beersheba.
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Everyone ran for cover at the Beersheba military cemetery, despite its lack of air-raid shelters. Two explosions rocked the city, throwing a dozen people into shock, effectively ending the cease-fire. In all, Palestinian militants fired on Israel 22 times yesterday.
At 5 p.m., the Israeli army dropped leaflets on the Rafah, Gaza border with Egypt, warning residents to leave, which was followed two hours later by a heavy bombardment of the town by the Israeli Air Force.
Eli Yishai: We Should Flatten Gaza – So That They Don’t Mess With Us Again
Following the attack on Beersheba, after Israel had agreed to a cease-fire, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Eli Yishai called for Israel to “flatten Gaza” to prevent further rocket attacks on southern Israel.
“Today, we have enormous strength, something we haven’t had for decades. Fraternity, unity of faith, mutual responsibility, which is something that I don’t remember seeing for many years,” Mr. Yishai said. “That is very important. It radiates strength to the other side, and they understand that we’re strong.”
Mr. Yishai said he believed the operation’s objective ought to be the eradication of Hamas’ regime in Gaza – not simply a demand that the Hamas stop firing.
“… This is an opportunity to crush thousands of terrorists’ houses who won’t be able to recover. I hope that this operation reaches its conclusion with great achievements and with the crushing of terrorism and Hamas,” Mr. Yishai said. “I’m of the opinion that we need to flatten them, to destroy thousands of houses and tunnels and industries. Gaza can be destroyed so that they understand that they shouldn’t mess with us any more.”
David Bedein can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org