Another Israeli was killed today by a Qassam rocket launched from Gaza. Hamas took credit, as it did for a rocket attack that killed Shirel Friedman last week, further escalating tensions in the border town of Sderot and egging on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to launch additional strikes on Hamas officials.
Israel is warning that Hamas leaders involved in ordering rocket attacks may be targeted, even if they are political figures. âWe are not bound by any timetable in this matter,â Mr. Olmert said. “We will decide where, how and to what extent we act.”
He also told Israelis âto prepare for a long confrontation that does not depend on agreementsâ among the various Palestinian factions. “I will not commit to coordinating our behavior with Hamas actions,â he said, whether it âopens fire or halts its fire.â
JTA reported last week that Hamas’ rocket attacks across the border present Israel with a major military dilemma.
Should it target radical Hamas leaders and operatives from the air or move large ground forces into Gaza to push the missile launchers out of range? Involve the international community or go it alone? Declare Gaza an enemy state or keep open options for early accommodation? Try to smash the Hamas-led Palestinian government or negotiate with it?
Olmert, heavily criticized for taking precipitate action against Hezbollah in Lebanon last summer, so far has committed only limited air power. But other voices inside and outside his government are calling for more radical action, and the prime minister is under growing pressure to make a major move.