Yesterday morning, Israel Air Force (IAF) aircraft bombed Hamas smuggling tunnels on the Gaza Strip’s southern border in response to the attack against an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) patrol near the area of Kibbutz Kissufim on Tuesday morning.
The IAF action reaffirmed Israel’s policy of forcibly responding to Gaza-based terrorism, even as President Barack Obama’s Middle East envoy, former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, visited Israel on a peace mission.
In that attack, one IDF officer was killed and three others were wounded, including one severe injury. The attack happened when Palestinians detonated an explosive device against an IDF force patrolling on the Israeli side of the Gaza Strip security fence.
The explosion occurred as a convoy of IDF vehicles were patrolling the road along the fence.
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The terrorists who planted the explosives and filmed the incident from beginning to end from just a few hundred feet away.
A preliminary IDF investigation determined a series of bombs had been planted the night before under the cover of heavy fog.
The Israeli security establishment is trying to discern how the terrorist squad had evaded Israeli intelligence.
The Jihad and Tawhid Brigades, which claimed responsibility for the terror attack, codenamed it Operation Red Flower.
Israel holds Hamas responsible for the terror attack, even if it was carried out by another organization.
“It doesn’t matter who carried out the attack – Hamas is going to pay,” an Israeli source said.
Sources in the Israeli military confirm that the IDF is pressuring the political echelon to authorize a “disproportionate response” that will set a high and clear price tag for every violation of the cease-fire.
The Israelis also hope to prevent Hamas from creating credibility for the notion its attacks on IDF soldiers have legitimacy.
“This is an opportunity to preserve deterrence in order to ensure quietâ€¨in the future,” said a high-ranking officer from the Israeli army’s southern command headquarters yesterday. “If we don’t respond now severely, we’ll pay a high price later.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Israel shouldn’t show any restrain in the face of Gaza terror attacks.
“If there is an incident along the border and somebody shoots, plants a bomb or smuggles weapons, Israel needs to respond immediately,” Ms. Livni said. “I don’t care what the address on the weapon was or whether it was Hamasâ€¨or another organization that fired it. Hamas is responsible for the turn of events in the Gaza Strip.”
Israeli leaders have told Mr. Mitchell they will continue air and land operations in Gaza as long cease-fire violations and arms smuggling continue.
“The new administration has to understand that we will not permit Israel’s citizens to be harmed, and therefore we will respond firmly to any infraction of the quiet,” Israeli officials told the American envoy.
Due to the close timing of Mr. Mitchell’s visit with the upcoming Israeli elections, two weeks from now, he reportedly plans to avoid talking with the press. Sources also indicate he will become a frequent visitor to Israel after the election.
Mr. Mitchell also has no intention of meeting with Hamas officials or their associates in Gaza, in keeping with long-standing American policy of ostracizing Hamas.
Israeli officials said they intend to present Mr. Mitchell with Israel’s conditions for progress in the peace process.
Council Of Jewish Communities In The West Bank Prepares Welcome For Mitchell
The Council of Jewish Communities in the West Bank has employed a mobile van to warn Mr. Mitchell of the danger posed to Israel by the establishment of a Palestinian state.
The van, holding erect a huge sign that reads “The Palestinian state will explode in our faces,” will now travel the highway between Tel Aviv to Jerusalem every day.
Sound and light effects demonstrating the aftermath of the withdrawal from Gaza and the rocket-fire on Beersheba, Ashdod and Gedera and the danger posed to Israel’s cities by any Palestinian state to the rest of Israel accompany the van.
The van was sent out yesterday in Tel Aviv. From there, the van made its way to Jerusalem, with the Israeli media following it every step of the way.
David Bedein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org