Former Israeli Defense Minister Arens: Only Israeli Reconquest Of Gaza Will Stop Palestinian Rocket Attacks
April 25, 2006

New York – Former Israeli Defense Minister, Moshe Arens, has said that only Israeli reconquest of the areas evacuated in Gaza by Israel last year could put a halt to the hundreds of Palestinian rocket attacks that have been incessant from Gaza since that time. Mr. Arens, who served several times as Defense Minister and once as Foreign Minister in previous Israeli governments, made his comments in an interview with Israel National News (Arutz-7) in which he said that the Israel Defense Force’s (IDF) present response of firing artillery rounds into the northern Gaza Strip cannot stop attacks. “IDF’s artillery barrage on northern Gaza is totally futile, as the terrorists fire the rockets from densely populated areas while Israel shells empty areas.”

“The security establishment must not forget … that the Qassems being fired on Ashkelon are being fired from areas that were abandoned as part of the Disengagement. The army must therefore return and conquer these areas, and only in this way will we be able to stop the rockets from being fired at us,” Arens said in the interview.

Arens added that the IDF needs to bear in mind that the Palestinian Qassem rockets falling on the Israeli port city of Ashkelon north of the Gaza Strip are being fired from areas evacuated last year by Israel when then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon uprooted 9,000 Jews from their homes, schools, synagogues, farms and businesses. The Palestinian terrorists operate from areas in close proximity to Palestinian civilians and Israel has been unwilling to strike back at these areas. For this reason, Arens believes, Israel must reconquer the areas formerly evacuated in order to put an end to the rocket attacks on Israeli cities. “I fear that the government is refraining from sending IDF troops into Gaza to stop the Qassem rockets because it doesn’t want to admit its mistake in withdrawing from Gaza in the first place” (Arutz-7, April 25).

ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “Moshe Arens is only the latest figure with a strong background in the Israeli military and security establishment to point to the damage done to Israeli security by last year’s withdrawal from Gaza and to indicate that Israel must retake the areas from which the terrorists attack Israel. We agree with Moshe Arens and other senior military figures like former IDF Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon who stated that, “I would have recommended after the first Qassem rocket fired after the withdrawal, there should have been strong and immediate retaliation” (Address to the AIPAC Policy Conference, Washington, March 6, 2006) that Israel cannot simply fire rockets at empty fields but must adopt measures that end the firing of rockets.”

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