A Palestinian rocket was fired into the Green Line. Though it
exploded harmlessly, its use was a red flag that raised the
tension level considerably.
There was no particular incident that could be claimed by the
Palestinians as provocation. Apparently, the rocket was
launched as soon as they were able to do so. The rockets are
short range, inaccurate, and poorly made, but they carry a
big enough warhead to cause death and destruction. M
IAF planes and helicopters targeted a number of security
installations in the center of Gaza City on Monday, the third
reprisal raid in retaliation for the terror murder of two
soldiers in Beersheba on Sunday and the firing of Kassam
rockets. Palestinians reported more than 30 people wounded in
the raids by F-16s and Apache helicopters.
The IDF Spokesman said targets in the Saraya security
compound, which houses national security and military
intelligence headquarters, were attacked in response to the
firing of the rockets.
The IDF expressed regret over the wounding of two UNESCO
workers who were on the higher floors of the UNESCO building
located near Ansar-2 that was targeted in the IAF attack. The
IDF Spokesman stressed that there was no intention to hit the
UNESCO building or harm the workers. According to the IDF,
the windows in the building were smashed due to the force of
the blast when the nearby security headquarters were hit.
Security sources said the Israeli response to Hamas's launch
of the Kassam-2 rockets on Sunday is not yet over, adding
that the next stage of the rolling operation approved by the
cabinet Sunday night is likely to include limited ground
operations in Area A (Palestinian-controlled territory).
The US has called the Palestinian deployment of new, longer
range Kassam-2 rockets "deeply troubling" and a "provocative
It also levied some of its toughest criticism in recent weeks
on Israel for its retaliatory strikes on PA installations.
"Reports that these rockets have been used we find deeply
troubling. Once again we'd say that [PA] Chairman [Yasser]
Arafat and the Palestinian Authority need to act now to halt
this kind of dangerous and provocative escalation," State
Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.
He said the US is "deeply troubled by the upsurge in violence
in the region." Seven Israelis have been killed by terrorists
in less than a week, and Israel has retaliated by pounding PA
installations in the Gaza Strip, wounding a few dozen
Palestinians, at least four seriously.
"We're especially concerned by attacks on or near Palestinian
prison facilities, reported releases of prisoners detained in
those areas, and reports the United Nations facility was
struck, with possibly a UN official wounded.
"Attacks such as these are counterproductive to efforts to
reduce the violence and restore calm, and we think that both
sides need to remain focused on the need for substantive,
ongoing security cooperation."
US Secretary of State Colin Powell spoke by telephone over
the weekend with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer and
with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on Monday. Both
Fischer and Straw are due in the region soon.
The European Union has broadly endorsed a French blueprint,
calling for Palestinian elections and the creation of a
Palestinian state to be "immediately" recognized by Israel
and admitted to the UN.
"I don't see any particular European proposal at this point,"
Boucher said. "I know there are some proposals from the
French that have been spun that way, but I didn't see any
particular statement out of the Europeans to that regard."
It is widely thought that the US is preparing to take action
against Iraq and therefore it does not want an escalation in
the Middle East to distract them and possibly antagonize
allies such as Saudi Arabia.
Israeli Security officials have not ruled out the possibility
terrorists in the West Bank may also fire Kassam rockets at
towns and cities across the Green Line.
"Hamas fires at them and they attack the PA in response. It's
absurd," said Gaza Preventive Security Service chief Muhammad
Monday night, a Palestinian mob forced its way into the
prison in Hebron and freed all the prisoners. Several hundred
prisoners were also released in Gaza. PA officials said that
they feared that the prisons would be attacked. Another
official indicated that they were releasing the prisoners as
a response to IDF attacks.
IDF troops, tanks, and other armored vehicles entered the
Balata refugee camp, southeast of Nablus, for a number of
hours to search suspected terrorists and rockets and mortars.
An Israeli spokesman said that this operation showed that
refugee camps are not off-limits to IDF operations, as has
been the case up to now.
Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said that the launching
of a Kassam rocket from the West Bank into a populated area
will be met with a "severe response."
"We will not be able to restrain ourselves for much longer,"
Ben-Eliezer said. The firing of the Kassams from Gaza on
Sunday was an "intolerable" escalation, he said.
Ben-Eliezer said the continuation of terror would provoke
moves that will make life difficult for the Palestinian
population, including the renewal of closures on cities and
Ben-Eliezer also said he got the impression the US sees Iraq
as a target and asked that Israel receive warning if military
action is taken against it. He also said the conflict with
the Palestinians is headed toward "significant escalation," a
development he characterized as worrisome.
He said he is looking for ways to get Israel out of the
conflict, and suggested Egypt could be a factor in breaking
the stalemate. He said he does not believe there can be a
military resolution, but the current situation cannot
"We can't bury our dead during the day and then sit down for
negotiations at night," he said.