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New IDF Rules of Engagement: Fire at Rocket-Launching Cells

by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz Arutz Sheva November 28, 2006

Ongoing Palestinian Authority rocket attacks have led to a slight shift in ceasefire orders among IDF units.

According to new orders issued in the last 24 hours to IDF units operating along the Gaza Strip perimeter, PA terrorists positively identified as members of specific rocket-firing cells may be targeted for elimination by ground or air forces. However, soldiers will require authorization from Southern Command officers before opening fire. The new orders modify IDF rules of engagement initially implemented in light of the recently agreed-upon ceasefire between the PA and Israel. In consultation with other senior officers, IDF Southern District Commander Yoav Galant issued the revised open-fire orders after PA terrorists fired two Kassam rockets at Sderot on Monday.

Two more rockets were launched at Sderot by PA attackers on Tuesday night; no injuries were reported. The Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, an operational wing of the Fatah terrorist organization, claimed responsibility for the attacks, announcing that it would continue the bombings. The organization blamed “Israeli violations” for the ongoing rocket attacks on Sderot. The group also accused Jewish residents in the Judea region of kidnapping an Arab woman from Hevron.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz announced that continued rocket fire on Israeli targets by the PA militias would lead to a harsh military response.

Nine rockets fired in the Sderot area scant hours into the ceasefire on Sunday morning were ignored as transitional to the implementation of the agreement. The PA announced that 13,000 security forces were deployed in northern Gaza to ensure the ceasefire is not violated; however, by Monday afternoon two Kassam rockets were fired into Sderot. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Anan expressed concern over the rocket strikes, which constitute a violation of the PA-Israel ceasefire.

On Monday, the PA offered several explanations for the attacks, saying alternately that the rockets were fired by cells unfamiliar with the terms of the ceasefire, and that the rocket attacks were in response to ongoing IDF activity in Judea and Samaria, intimating that the attacks would not stop as long as IDF operations continued anywhere.

Among the recent IDF activity in Judea and Samaria is an ongoing intense operation to capture wanted Arab terrorists from all PA factions and to disrupt the terrorist infrastructure in those areas. The increased military activity was initiated in light of the high number of intelligence warnings indicating planned terrorist attacks on Israeli targets. As part of the operations, IDF forces captured 13 wanted PA terrorists or suspects overnight Monday. Enemy gunmen opened fire on the soldiers in several locations during the operations.

Rock-throwing and firebomb attacks by PA Arabs targeting Israeli motorists in Judea and Samaria continued Monday and Tuesday in several locations. One woman was lightly injured by rocks Tuesday afternoon near Shechem; several vehicles were damaged as a result of attacks in multiple locations.

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