Peretz: No letup on rocket launchers
Defense minister tells how he awoke in Sderot to sound of Red Dawn alert system before hearing powerful explosion; says, ‘I am a man of peace, but no one should delude themselves that we will make allowances to Qassam launchers
A few hours after one of the four Qassam rockets landed in Sderot, Defense Minister Amir Peretz visited the home struck by the rocket and inspected the damage. Peretz, a Sderot resident, needed to walk only a few dozen meters from his home, which was not far from the home hit by the Qassam.
"I was supposed to go this morning to a security cabinet meeting and 10 minutes before I woke up the Red Dawn alert system went off, followed by a loud explosion," Peretz said.
"Unfortunately this is not the first time that a Qassam rocket has fallen near my house and I know Moti Ashkenazi (home owner who's walls were hit by rocket) well. He is a good friend of ours and the first thing I did was call him immediately and ask if he and Tziona were alright. Moti's family is well known in Sderot; we are proud of them. They give us strength," said Peretz.
Ashkenazi himself said the rocket that landed in the courtyard of his house could have caused a major disaster. "Very luckily the rocket hit a concrete strip in the ceiling, which slowed it down a bit," he said Wednesday morning. "I heard the explosion and flew out of bed. Pieces of the ceiling fell on me. There was a big miracle here because one of the pieces of shrapnel from the rocket hit the gas tank in the house. I'm still trying to take in all that has happened to us here this morning," he said.
Ashkenazi's wife had left earlier for work, while his children stayed in Tel Aviv overnight.
A total of four rockets landed in the western Negev Wednesday morning. Two of them hit homes in Sderot, a third hit a different community in the area, and a fourth landed in open territory. There were no injuries in the attacks. Peretz emphasized that, as in the start of the week, the IDF would continue its operations against Qassam rocket launchers from northern Gaza.
'I'm a man of peace, but we'll make no allowances for rocket launchers'
"I am a man of peace, but no one should delude themselves that we will make allowances to Qassam launchers," he said. "There are operations aimed at harming their ability to fire Qassams. After all, terror also harms Palestinians," he said.
"I hope that the cut in the defense budget won't harm our ability to defend the communities," Peretz added.
The defense minister was received warmly in his own neighborhood, and Peretz occasionally evaded his guards to speak with his friends. The residents asked him to order the army to act with more determination against the rocket launchers. "We think there is only one thing that can be done to stop these rockets, and that is to erase the territories from they are being fired," one local resident said.
Amir, there's no place like home, eh?