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Gaza - No End Of Story

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: 'Israel will make war on Hamas but peace with President Mahmoud Abbas'

'I gave express orders to IDF soldiers not to endanger Palestinian civilians in the fighting'

Hamas Terrorist

The IDF operation into the northern Gaza Strip that began on Friday night is over. Israeli troops and tanks withdrew from Gaza after their search and destroy mission to hit Palestinian terrorists who continually rocket Israeli towns and villages. However, IsraCast learns that Israel will now conduct an ongoing campaign using various tactics to suppress the rocket attacks.

More of the same - that is the Israeli message at the end of the IDF operation into the northern Gaza Strip. The Israeli troops and tanks have been withdrawn but that is definitely not the end of the story. The IDF has been ordered to launch more and varied military strikes into Gaza to suppress the rocketing and to prove to the Palestinians that terror will not pay. Addressing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Prime Minister Olmert declared that Israel will make war on Hamas in Gaza but carry on peace contacts with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on the West-Bank.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (Photo: Amit Shabi)

During the latest operation Olmert said IDF soldiers were given specific orders not to open fire if Palestinian civilians were endangered. The terrorists often use Palestinian civilians as human shields and in one case used a musk as a firing position and a weapons arsenal. Over one-hundred Palestinians and two IDF soldiers were killed in the flair-up. On this score, Olmert criticized those who preach to Israel about the numbers-game of Israeli and Palestinian casualties. He declared: 'No country in the world would tolerate the indiscriminate rocketing of its civilians.' But he also noted that without an ongoing political process with West-Bank Palestinians, Israel would not enjoy freedom of action to hit Hamas even in self-defense.

The Prime Minister would not divulge any details of Israel's future military tactics in combating the rocket attacks of Gaza. But he added: 'all options are on the table'. He rejected that demand of opposition leader Bibi Netanyahu to order a major invasion of the entire Gaza Strip in order to topple the Hamas regime. The Prime Minister said: 'no one in the world has a quick fix for halting all the rocketing from Gaza'. However, he believed that IDF operations would result in a significant reduction in the rocketing and also weaken popular Palestinians support for Hamas. He defended his political contacts with Mahmoud Abbas saying without such a political process, Hamas would eventually also take over the West Bank. It would be impossible to prevent the 'Gazatization' of the West-Bank.

Commenting on the IDF operation, Defense minister Ehud Barak said Hamas despite its celebrations had been dealt a severe blow. He added that all considerations military and international aspects had been taken into consideration in launching the IDF operation which he said had been successfully concluded.

David Essing

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