Photo: Gil Yohanan
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Defends army's morality
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Photo: Tzafrir Abayov
Peretz. Ordered to suspend artillery fire
Photo: Tzafrir Abayov
Photo: AFP
Beit Lahiya deadly blast Friday
Photo: AFP
PM: IDF most ethical army in world
In cabinet meeting Sunday Olmert voices regret over death of innocent Palestinians in Gaza blast, but says Israeli army 'has never made it its strategy to target civilians.' Defense Minister Peretz stresses Hamas not 'insured' against Israeli attacks
Israel regrets the death of seven innocent civilians, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at the opening of a cabinet meeting Sunday morning, referring to the Gaza blast that hit and killed seven members of the Palestinian Ghalia family on Friday.


Olmert noted that Defense Minister Amir Peretz has ordered an investigation into the incident, and vowed that the detailed conclusions of the probe will be revealed to the public once the inquiry is completed.


Shortly before departing on his first official trip in the post to Europe, during which he is expected to face harsh criticism in wake of the Beit Lahiya tragedy, the PM expressed full support for the IDF.


"The IDF is the most ethical army in the world, and I reject any attempt to question its morality. The army has never made it its strategy to target civilians, and this is also true today," Olmert stressed.


"For weeks now, the Palestinians have been carrying out rocket fire from the Strip aimed at killing Israeli civilians in the communities near Gaza. This severe shooting harms the life fabric of the southern communities," the PM added.


In that regard, Olmert mentioned the massive rocket barrage at Israel's south Sunday morning and the serious injury sustained by a school employee in Sderot.


The defense minister and the army chief visited Saturday the Gaza Division in a bid to gather firsthand information regarding the Gaza explosion. A General Staff team headed by Major general Meir Kalifi has been established in order to investigate the incident and submit its findings to the minister.


Peretz: Hamas not insured against attacks


Defense Minister Amir Peretz said in his briefing at the cabinet meeting that Hamas has been carrying out terror activities against Israel in the last 24 hours, concentrating most of its efforts on rocket fire.


Peretz said that Hamas was not "insured" against Israeli attacks, and said: "I wish to stress that we will operate against all those who engage in terror, including Hamas, by using most of the means at our disposal."


According to Peretz, Sderot has sustained ongoing artillery fire throughout the weekend and on Sunday. On a personal note, the defense minister said that "a friend of mine was seriously wounded this morning, and several educational facilities were hit. We will act to ensure our citizens' safety. The army is prepared to operate against any organization."


Commenting on the Bait Lahiya blast, Peretz stated that while an investigation ruled out the possibility that the explosion was the result of fire from the air or sea, the option it was caused by artillery fire is still being examined, alongside the possibility Palestinian fire caused the blast.


Despite a temporary order to suspend all artillery fire until the probe is concluded, Peretz said that the army did not concede any means of actions. "However, we may change our methods, depending on the investigation's conclusions," he added.


First published: 11.06.06, 11:28
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