Associates of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stressed before Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Thursday that Israel's restraint policy in the face of Qassam attacks will not last long. "If the Qassam fire continues, we will have no other option but to respond," an official close to the PM said. The statement comes in wake of the ongoing fire on the western Negev and Ashkelon, and after 10 rockets have been fired by Palestinian gunmen in the last 24 hours alone. A senior official at the Prime Minister's Office said that Israel does not wish to initiate a confrontation in the area, and that in the meantime, the restraint will be maintained.
"We don't want to reach another escalation. It is clear to us that counter attacks or other Israeli actions will strengthen Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Such a reaction might cause Hamas and Fatah to unite forces against Israel once again." The official explained.
Meanwhile kassams continue to fall. This time at a playground reports Ynet:
A fourth Qassam was fired Thursday evening from the northern Gaza Strip and landed near a school in a Sderot neighborhood. Several people suffered from shock. The al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad's military wing, claimed responsibility for the shooting. Odelia Peretz, a Sderot resident, told Ynet, "The alarm went off and we heard a very loud explosion."
Her brother Gal, who was close to the place where the rocket landed, said: "We were driving and suddenly heard the Color Red alert. We ran quickly to the community center and stood close to the wall. I looked up to see where the rocket will fall, I saw a flare and then heard a blast. It was really frightening, we were thrown against the wall and the Qassam landed right behind us, on a basketball court next to the community center and the school."
Kobi Cohen, another witness, described the attack: "There was a huge explosion. The Qassam landed in the community center's basketball court. There were no children in the area." The recent attack brings the number of rockets fired at Israel since Wednesday noon to 11. Three Qassam rockets were fired at Israel Thursday morning, following seven rockets launched Wednesday. Two of the rockets fired Thursday landed in Palestinian territory, and one landed in Israel.
I just chalk it up to Islamic Jihad’s mediation efforts to reconcile Fatah & Hamas, but the kassams will continue to land unchallenged in Israel until someone dies. And then, the Kadima Administration will finally be sufficiently motivated to act - even if its only because of shame.