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Barak: Current episode with Gaza ‘not over’

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak during a visit to the Gaza border said the current episode of rocket fire from the coastal strip is not over.

Barak on Tuesday held a security analysis with the Israel Defense Forces chiefs in the area.

"Hamas and the other terrorist organizations are suffering as a result of intense strikes [by the IDF] in Gaza, but it is certainly not over and we will decide how and when to act if necessary," Barak said, according to a statement from the Defense Ministry. "I do not want to address either timing or means [of operation]; it would not be right to provide this information to the other side.

"We do not intend to allow — in any shape or form — the continued harming of the day to day life of our citizens. And we intend to reinforce the deterrence — and strengthen it — so that we are able to operate along the length of the border fence in a way that will ensure the security of all our soldiers who are serving around the Gaza Strip."

Barak added that Israel holds Hamas responsible, even if other Gaza terrorist organizations are shooting some of the rockets, because Hamas is in charge of Gaza. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the security cabinet on Tuesday morning to discuss possible responses to the attacks from Gaza.

A long-range Grad missile fired from Gaza on Tuesday morning struck Ashdod but did not cause any injuries or damage.

The attacks came despite representatives of Palestinian terrorist groups agreeing conditionally to a cease-fire with Israel that included a stipulation that they had the right to respond to Israeli aggression.

Early Tuesday morning, an Israeli airstrike hit a weapons storage facility in the central Gaza Strip and two launching sites in the northern Gaza Strip, according to the IDF.

On Monday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Gaza terrorists for the rocket attacks on Israeli civilians. He also called on Israel to be restrained in its response.

“The secretary-general reiterates his call for an immediate cessation of indiscriminate rocket attacks by Palestinian militants targeting Israel and strongly condemns these actions,” Ban’s spokesman said in a statement. “Both sides should do everything to avoid further escalation and must respect their obligations under international humanitarian law to ensure the protection of civilians at all times.”

At least 160 rockets have been fired at southern Israel from Gaza since Saturday night, according to reports. 

Barak’s meeting with the IDF chief included Gaza Division Commander Brig. Gen. Mickey Edelstein; the commander of the Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Tal Russo; and Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh.
 

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