Israel considers harsh response to Gaza rockets

Israel has authorized its military to take all necessary steps to stop rocket fire from Gaza, including a ground operation, an Israeli military official said Nov. 1, a day after the cessation of a weekend-long barrage of rocket attacks.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the decision authorized the military to act in accordance with the severity of Palestinian attacks, meaning that any ground offensive would be ordered only after massive rocket fire.

On Nov. 2, schools reopened in southern Israeli communities after having been closed for three days due to the rocket attacks.

The sudden spike in violence began when militants in Gaza started firing salvos at Israel late last week, and Israel retaliated with air strikes. Islamic Jihad has taken responsibility for the rocket attacks. One Israeli civilian and at least 10 Islamic Jihad terrorists were killed.

On Nov. 1, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned from the podium of the Knesset that Israel would operate “vigorously and resolutely” against those who would threaten its security.

The rocket attacks disrupted life in southern Israel, forcing schools to close in Beersheva, Ashkelon and Ashdod. Some 200,000 children stayed home from school, and several colleges and Ben-Gurion University did not open for the start of the new academic year.

Many of the schools do not have areas fortified against rocket attacks to protect the students and staff. The Home Front Command has announced that all schools within about 15 miles of the Gaza border will have protected spaces by the start of the next school year.

About 1 million Israelis live within range of rockets from Gaza. — jta & ap