Ron Ben-Yishai
December 11, 2008 - 1:00am,7340,L-3636726,00.html

Eight days before the ceasefire agreement brokered with the militant groups in the Gaza Strip is scheduled to end, and amid non-stop rocket fire, a security source said that "the IDF will execute any operation the political echelon orders."

The source further criticized statements made by various cabinet members, saying there was no need for them to publicly call for a Gaza operation, while they choose to take different stands – sometimes opposite stands – in the practical discussions on the matter.

The IDF presented the National Security Cabinet, which discussed the ongoing rocket fire on Israel Wednesday night, with various plans of action, meant to paralyze the rocket and mortar shell fire emanating form the Strip.

According to the security source, the IDF is ready to launch any of its plans or a combination of them, but for that to happen, the political echelon must make an operational decision.

In a meeting which included Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and in light of the sparring between Barak and Livni, the prime minister urged both to leave the IDF and the defense establishment out of the political debate: "The heads of the defense establishment and the IDF must not be attributed with any political considerations," the Prime Minister's Office said.

National Security Cabinet member Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, called on the cabinet to halt the discussions on the fortification of the Gaza vicinity communities: "The best defense is a good offense… I want to see fortifications in Gaza, not in Israel," he said.

Shas Chairman Eli Yishai called for "an immediate surgical operation against Hamas' heads and those carrying out terror attacks and firing Qassam rockets and mortar shells on Israel." Yishai also said Israel should opt for a "financial chokehold" on Gaza.

Foreign Minister Livni demanded an immediate Israeli response to the recent rocket fire, saying "fire should be met with fire."

"The situation is unbearable," said her office. "Hamas and other terror groups are firing rockets, we close the (Gaza) crossings but we don't launch a military response, and as a result the fire continues. The IDF has to act. As for the extent of the operation, we have to choose from the options laid out before us."


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