Israeli leaders approach mediators for a ceasefire with Hamas
Reporting this, debkafile‘s sources say Hamas would claim it had came out ahead of this round after the Israeli Air Force and army failed to stop its two-day barrage of 105 missiles and rockets.
Ashkelon, brought firmly into the Palestinian rocket cycle Wednesday, Feb. 27, was hit by a dozen Grad (Katyusha) rockets Thursday, injuring three people and sending 55 to hospital in a state of shock. The damage to the town of more than 120,000 was extensive. Thursday night, defense minister Barak finally approved the Red Color alert system which gives victims seconds to run for shelter from an incoming Qassam missile or rocket.
Our military sources report that some 20 Israeli air strikes over the Gaza Strip against Palestinian missile teams and Hamas command centers, which left 14 dead, including four children, there was no perceptible easing off on the missile fire, especially against Ashkelon.
Those sources add that, despite the defense minister’s assurances that effective military to terminate the missile and rocket attacks was coming soon, no immediate preparations are in sight for a large-scale military action in the Gaza Strip. Members of the Olmert government have been focusing on leaning hard on Hamas to accept a truce by targeted air strikes aimed at reducing the volume of missile fire. This strategy failed for lack of ground action. The more frequent the air raids, the heavier the missile barrages and the broader the scope of their targets. Hamas topped Wednesday’s score of 50 missiles and rockets by shooting more than 60 Thursday – most aimed at Ashkelon and Sderot.
Israeli officers reported signs that the Palestinian terrorists were planning to expand their offensive Friday and over the weekend; their Katyushas may now be aimed at the southern districts of Ashdod, north of Ashkelon.