“There were growing fears in Israel last night that Hamas missiles could threaten its top-secret nuclear facility at Dimona,” reports the London Times this morning.
“Rocket attacks from Gaza have forced Israelis to flee in ever greater numbers and military chiefs have been shaken by the size and sophistication of the militant group’s arsenal. In Beersheba, until a few days ago a sleepy desert town in southern Israel, there is little sign of the 186,000 inhabitants. Schools are closed and the streets of shuttered shops echo with the howl of sirens warning of incoming rockets….Israeli officials say that Hamas has also acquired dozens of Iranian-made Fajr-3 missiles with an even longer range. Many fear that as the group acquires ever more sophisticated weaponry it is only a matter of time before the nuclear installation at Dimona, 20 miles east of Beersheba, falls within its sights. Dimona houses Israel’s only nuclear reactor and is believed to be where nuclear warheads are stored….Israel’s worst nightmare is that soon all its cities will be within range either of the Hezbollah Katyushas arrayed on the Lebanese border to the north or the increasingly sophisticated missiles stockpiled by Hamas to the south. Both groups have links to Israel’s archenemy Iran. Israel has said that its aim is to smash Hamas’s rocket-firing capability but also to topple the hardline Islamist regime that seized power in the Gaza Strip in 2007 after bloody street battles with its secular rivals Fatah. Until that goal is achieved, many in Beersheba are packing their bags and heading for Tel Aviv or Eilat. ‘Maybe 30 or 40 per cent of people have left the city,’ said Ron Shukron, 26, running one of the few grocery shops still open. As he spoke a siren echoed through the empty streets. With only 15 seconds to take cover, he stepped under a reinforced support beam in the ceiling. Seconds later came the dull thud of a rocket exploding on the edge of town.”
Meanwhile, Israel’s Operation Cast Lead is having a curious political effect in Israel. The Kadima party — run by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni who are overseeing the war — is losing support among voters, while the opposition Likud Party (run by Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu) has pulled ahead significantly in recent days. A new Jerusalem Post poll found that “the Likud had risen from 27 seats to 29, Labor had gone up from 14 to 15, and Kadima had fallen from 27 to 23 since the previous Post poll was published on October 31. Likud and Kadima, which were tied then, are now six seats apart, and the Right bloc’s advantage over the Left remains a hefty eight mandates, 64 to 56.”
Other findings in the Post poll:
- “Asked whether they found the Likud and Kadima lists attractive, respondents were equally positive and negative about Likud’s candidates. Fifty-one percent said they found the Kadima list unattractive, while just 28% said it attracted them.”
- “Other polls published this week found that 81% of Israelis supported the war in Gaza, but only 63% believed it would succeed in stopping rocket fire on the South. The surveys were divided on whether there should be a ground offensive in the Strip or whether Israel should seek a cease-fire.”
HEADLINES TO TRACK:
- Seven rockets fired at Israel early Friday morning , more Israelis wounded
- Protests against Gaza op sweep Mideast: Thousands march Friday prayers in Teheran, Cairo, Amman and Damascus
- Egypt’s foreign minister said on Thursday that Hamas must ensure rocket fire stops in any truce deal to halt Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip, criticizing the Palestinian group for giving Israel an excuse to launch the bombardment
- Hamas vows “painful response” to commander’s death
- On seventh day of Gaza op, IAF hits more than 30 Hamas targets
- Global terror attacks feared due to Gaza op: Israeli Counter-Terrorism Bureau warns of rise in tensions between Muslim, Jews worldwide in response to Operation Cast Lead
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