ARABS-ISRAEL - May 22 - If Rockets Don't Stop We Will Not Stop, Says Israel.
In a radio interview Deputy Defence Minister Ephraim Sneh says
Israel could kill Palestinian PM Esmail Haniya of Hamas as part of a
military campaign to halt rocket salvoes by the ruling Islamist group in
the Gaza Strip. Asked if Haniya was on Israel's hit-list, Ephraim
Sneh said: I'll put it like this - there is no one who is in the
circle of commanders and leaders in Hamas who is immune from a strike.
"For what does political Hamas do? It gives the operational
approval to those who are doing the fighting", Sneh told Israel
Radio. He issued the threat a day after an Israeli woman was killed by a
rocket in the southern town of Sderot, the first fatality in a
Palestinian rocket attack since November. Israeli air strikes over the
past week have so far killed at least 34 Palestinians, medical officials
in Gaza said, including four Islamic Jihad militants on May 21 who the
group described as a rocket-launching squad. The Israeli army said about
150 rockets have been fired from Gaza in the current wave of violence.
Test for diplomacy "If the rockets don't stop, we will not
stop", Israeli Defence Minister Amir Peretz told reporters. He said
Israel was "biting its lip" and refraining, for now, from
launching a wide-scale ground offensive in Gaza. Meeting Javier Solana,
the EU's foreign policy chief, Peretz called for immediate
international diplomatic intervention to avoid "anarchy in which
the Palestinian National Authority collapses completely".
"This is a test for European diplomacy. It is a test for US
diplomacy. It is a test for the diplomacy of the free world",
Peretz said. Hamas's armed wing said it fired two rockets at Sderot
early May 21. Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas official, said Israel must first
stop all its attacks on Palestinians before the group and other factions
could consider halting their own strikes. Palestinian President Mahmoud
Abbas is to go to Gaza later to speak to leaders about maintaining law
and order after weeks of fighting between his Fatah faction and Hamas,
and perhaps about resuming a Gaza truce with Israel, FM Ziad Abu Asaid.
The latest Israeli air strikes in Gaza destroyed a metal foundry, which
the military said produced weapons, and a building that it described as
a "command centre" used by militants. There were no reports of
casualties. PM Ehud Olmert was quoted by the YNet news website as
telling Sderot residents: There is no immediate solution to the Qassam