by Gil Ronen
(IsraelNN.com) The National Union party warned Tuesday against a ceasefire in the fighting against Hamas, saying that “whoever ceases fire after Be’er Sheva was targeted will wake up to missiles on Dimona and Tel Aviv.”
Dimona, home to Israel’s main nuclear research facility, is located 36 km to the south and east of Be’er Sheva, which was hit for the first time ever by long-range Grad-type Katyusha missiles on Tuesday.
Two missiles struck the city known as “the capital of the south.” One exploded in the courtyard of a kindergarten, but miraculously no one was injured. The second landing site was not identified. Ben Gurion University of the Negev, located in the heart of the city, had already made preparations earlier in the day against a possible missile attack.
The National Union said that it embraced U.S. President George W. Bush’s position regarding a ceasefire with Hamas. The American president has begun pressuring both Israel and the terrorist group to accept a “reliable ceasefire, one that is durable and sustainable,” through phone calls made by State Department emissaries to both sides.
“That is different from the ceasefire that existed in the last six months,” said State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid, who pointed out the Hamas had repeatedly violated the temporary truce it had negotiated with Israel. Hamas chose not to renew that six-month ceasefire, referred to as the “calm,” or tahadiyeh in Arabic, which began on June 19 and expired amidst a hail of rockets that became an almost daily occurrence in the last month of the so-called “truce.”
Bush, Abbas Agree
Briefing reporters at Bush’s Texas ranch, spokesman Gordon Johndroe Johndroe said that “for any ceasefire to be effective, it must be respected by Hamas.” Bush’s spokesman added that in the absence of such a stance, a cease-fire agreement wouldn’t be worth the “paper that it’s written on.”
The White House said that President Bush and Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas agreed in a telephone conversation Tuesday that if any new cease-fire agreement is to be effective in the Middle East, “it must be respected by Hamas.”
Bush talked to both Abbas and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad after having a briefing by video conference with his own top aides on the fast-paced developments in Gaza.
MK Avigdor Lieberman, chairman of the Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home) party, also came out Tuesday against the reported recommendation of a ceasefire. “The IDF must continue to clean up Gaza and not give in to all sorts of initiatives for ceasefires,” he said. “The situation today is like the one that preceded World War II,” he added. “Islamic extremism is endangering the world. We must strike while the iron is still hot.”
Hana Levi Julian contributed to this report.