[Personally I just don’t get it.  Israel has abolished the death penalty in accord with long-standing Jewish tradition (Eichman was the only exception).  From my vantage point assassinations are worse than executions — too often they kill innocents as well as those intended as the targets.  But worse — they are are part of a game of ever-lasting retaliation.  You kill ours and we kill yours.  This is the worst kind of regression from modern standards of justice.  Such behavior dates back to the dark ages.  Shame!  Need I add the same caveat for Hamas?  Ed Kent]



Last update – 13:54 25/04/2007
IDF presents PM with proposal to renew targeted assassinations
By Amos Harel, Aluf Benn and Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondents, and Agencies

Senior defense officials on Wednesday presented Prime Minister Ehud Olmert with a proposal to resume targeted assassinations of Palestinian militants and hits on infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, a day after the Hamas military wing fired a barrage of Qassam rockets and mortar shells at southern Israel.

Hamas said the attacks were revenge for an IDF operation in the territories over the weekend, in which nine Palestinians were killed.

The main question will be whether Hamas is in fact resuming its war against Israel, which would call for a harsher response, or whether this was a one-time violation of the cease-fire.

But Olmert did not hold urgent consultations and has not convened the diplomatic-security cabinet, indicating that Israel’s response will be moderate.

Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh said Wednesday that Israel was not seeking to raise the level of conflict between the two sides and security officials said a full-scale ground offensive into Gaza was not a preferred option.

“We have no interest in escalation,” Sneh told Israel Radio. “We do have an interest in doing what is neccessary to reduce as much as possible the level of terrorism.”

Likud MKs, however, called for more stringent measures. Party chairman Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel should place Gaza under closure “until Hamas is toppled,” Israel Radio reported.

MK Yuval Steinitz, a member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, called Wednesday for the IDF to launch an operation similar to that of Defensive Shield in 2002, which followed a wave of deadly suicide bombings inside Israel.

But government and army sources predicted that Israel’s response would be localized and not involve a major ground operation in Gaza because no one was hurt and due to pleas for calm by members of the Palestinian government.

The sources said Hamas’ claim of responsibility – the first since it formed a unity government with Fatah – should make it clear to all that this is a terrorist government.

The head of an Egyptian security delegation in Gaza, Maj. General Burhan Hamad, called a meeting of all Palestinian factions for Wednesday morning, urging them to maintain the calm to avert any possible IDF invasion of Gaza. He condemned the rocket barrages and the IDF raids.

Senior IDF officers also say the Israel Defense Forces foiled a Hamas attempt to kidnap a soldier on the Gaza border Tuesday. Apparently as part of this attempt, the dozens of rockets and shells were fired at southern Israel. There were no casualties.

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Tuesday that Hamas’ violation of the five-month-old Gaza Strip cease-fire was an exception and would not be repeated, calling on Israel to show restraint in order to avoid a security deterioration.

“The violation of the truce is an exceptional event that will not last,” said Abbas at a news conference with Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi in Rome.

“I take this opportunity to appeal to Israel to show the necessary self-control so that this will not happen again.”

Hamas began launching rockets and mortars along the Gaza-Israel border at about 8:00 A.M. The organization said it fired 28 rockets and 61 mortars, but the IDF believes the number was lower because it identified only about 10 landing sites. The launches damaged some agricultural buildings.

Israel was to submit a protest to the United Nations Security Council on Wednesday.

Hamas had recently resumed attacks from Gaza, though not on this scale. However, its claim of responsibility was unusual: After it agreed to a cease-fire in Gaza last November, it stopped announcing responsibility for rocket launches, even though it was involved in some.

Palestinian security sources affiliated with the rival Fatah party said the attack was meant to score points with the Palestinian public, but they do not believe Hamas plans a large-scale military confrontation with Israel at this stage.

The IDF’s official statement Tuesday said only that the army foiled a Hamas attempt “to carry out a large-scale, complex terror attack.” But senior army officers said the attack was an attempted kidnapping, apparently via a tunnel into Israel, for which the rocket and mortar fire was meant to provide cover.

Israel had advance intelligence about the attack, supported by Hamas officials’ public declarations that the organization was planning additional kidnappings. This helped the army to foil it.

Government and army sources both rejected Palestinian calls to expand the cease-fire to the West Bank, saying Olmert is willing to discuss this only once the cease-fire in Gaza is truly being honored.

Troops hurt in West Bank

Also Wednesday, two IDF soldiers were lightly wounded in an explosion near their vehicle during a patrol in the West Bank city of Nablus, Israel Radio reported Wednesday.

The two were taken to hospital for medical treatment, the radio said.

In Hebron, security forces arrested a wanted militant who was taken for questioning.

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent  718-951-5324 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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