Speaking to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Israeli Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz conceded, on Tuesday, that the army’s offensive Operation called "Blue Skies" in the Gaza Strip provides only a partial solution to the firing of Qassam homemade shells at the Israeli city of Ashkelon, and fails to provide any solution to the "Qassam threat" to the hard-hit Negev town of Sderot.
The statements of Halutz came hours after Palestinians fired 10 Qassam homemade shells at the Negev earlier on Tuesday; two of the shells were aimed at Ashkelon and the rest at the western Negev.
The Qassam shelling came in retaliation for Monday night Israeli air strike in the northern of the Gaza Strip, which killed two senior leaders of the Islamic Jihad. A third resident who was riding with them in a car at the time of the attack was seriously injured, and died later on of his wounds, two bystanders were also injured in the strike, Palestinian security officials said
No injuries or damages were reported out of the Qassam shelling, some of the homemade shells appear to have fallen short of their targets, landing within the Strip; others hit open areas of the Negev.
In response to the Qassams, Israeli artillery fired at the Gaza Strip Tuesday morning, the Israeli Army Radio reported.
According to the Israeli Army Radio, the Qassams were fired far from the 16 square kilometers in northern Gaza border area which Israel has declared off limits to the Palestinians.
Meanwhile, sources in the Likud party, set to leave the Israeli government next week, criticized the government’s decision to impose the buffer zone in northern Gaza, and called for an "effective response" to the attacks.
In an effort to prevent the launching of Qassam home made shells from the area into Israel, Israel declared last week a 16 square kilometer off limits zone in the northern Gaza Strip; any Palestinian who enters the off-limits zone, which is inside the Palestinian areas, will be killed instantly, without any prior warning.