Abbas orders security forces to prevent attacks on Israelis

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) ordered security forces on Monday to prevent Palestinian militant attacks on Israelis, said PA cabinet minister Kadoura Fares. “Abu Mazen and the cabinet gave clear instructions to the security chiefs to prevent all kinds of violence, including attacks against Israel,” said Fares, a minister without portfolio. “There are intensified instructions to the Palestinian security forces to assume their responsibilities,” Communications Minister Azzam al-Ahmed told reporters after Monday’s cabinet meeting. Asked whether this included trying to prevent attacks, he said: “For sure.” “We have a decision to stop the cycle of violence,” al-Ahmed said. “The attacks by the Palestinian side must come to an end, but Israeli military operations must also end.” But the radical Islamic movement Hamas was swift to announce it would continue with its attacks against Israeli targets, Israel Radio reported. Israel mulls use of artillery Earlier Monday, Deputy Defense Minister Ze’ev Boim said Israelis officials were weighing the future use of artillery in response to Palestinian attacks. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has said repeatedly that no limitations have been placed on the IDF, but in practice he has sent troops into the Strip largely for “measured responses” to the attacks. “From the diplomatic standpoint, there is still the desire to grant a certain, if limited, window of time so that Abu Mazen can get organized,” Boim said. “The time window is very limited,” he said. “Certainly, there will be no 100 days of grace.” Palestinians gunners fired four Qassam rockets into the Negev and a northern Gaza settlement on Monday morning, Israel Radio reported. There were no injuries. Sharon told his cabinet Sunday that IDF commanders had been given orders to operate “without restrictions, I repeat, without restrictions” against militant Qassam and mortar crews in the Gaza Strip. “What is clear is that the IDF will have the authority to take all necessary measures in line with the prime minister’s comments at the cabinet meeting yesterday,” Prime Minister’s Office official David Baker told Haaretz on Monday. “The prime minister’s comments underline his determination to protect Israeli citizens in the face of total inby the Palestinian Authority, in all that concerns prevention of terrorist attacks.” On Saturday, when a teenage girl was critically wounded in a rocket attack on Sderot and two days after six people were killed in the Karni attack, political and military officials threatened to begin a major IDf operation in Gaza. But the atmosphere changed Sunday, when various officials, including Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, asked Sharon to give Abbas some time to deal with the terror organizations. Nonetheless, Boim said Monday, if the attacks continued, “radical solutions” could be employed against them. “There are officials and very serious people who say that you must meet a steep trajectory with a steep trajectory, to mark out an artillery battery, make an advance annoucement to the residents, and move artillery up to certain neighborhoods, and then people will understand,” Boim told the radio. “We will not conduct the war like the Americans did in Falluja, for example. Not because we are not a superpower, but because it contradicts our world view, and, justifiably, a great debate will ensue if we do so. But if we warn the population of what may happen, maybe they will understand this language.” IDF preparing option of widespread raid Military sources said Sunday that the IDF was preparing for a “measured response” in Gaza. The army intends to carry out a series of local, targeted operations in areas from where the terror groups have launched rockets. The IDF is likely to send relatively small units for a short time. So far a fairly small number of additional troops has been sent to Gaza. In contrast to its behavior following previous instances of rocket attacks resulting in casualties, the IDF has not yet raided the Beit Hanun area in northern Gaza, from where rockets were most recently fired at Sderot. For now, the IDF has sufficed with Operation Eastern Step in the Zeitun neighborhood of southern Gaza, its only operation so far. Troops moved into the area before dawn Saturday in reto the attack on the nearby Karni crossing between Israel and Gaza. The operation is expected to end shortly. The Israel Air Force also hit three Qassam launchers in Gaza on Sunday that were ready for launching. At the same time, the IDF is preparing for the possibility of a widespread operation that would include capturing a “security strip” in Palestinian towns in an attempt to improve security for the Gush Katif settlement bloc in Gaza and for Sderot. However, such an operation depends on Sharon’s decision.