Photo: Gil Yohanan
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Photo: Gil Yohanan
PM in message to Abbas: We'll respond to Qassams
PM Olmert's associates stress before Palestinian president that 'If the Qassam fire continues, we will have no other option but to respond'
Gaza ceasefire coming to an end? Associates of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stressed before Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Thursday that Israel's restraint policy in the face of Qassam attacks will not last long.


"If the Qassam fire continues, we will have no other option but to respond," an official close to the PM said.


The statement comes in wake of the ongoing fire on the western Negev and Ashkelon, and after 10 rockets have been fired by Palestinian gunmen in the last 24 hours alone.


A senior official at the Prime Minister's Office said that Israel does not wish to initiate a confrontation in the area, and that in the meantime, the restraint will be maintained.


"We don't want to reach another escalation. It is clear to us that counter attacks or other Israeli actions will strengthen Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Such a reaction might cause Hamas and Fatah to unite forces against Israel once again." The official explained.


He added that during the current ceasefire the number of rockets launched against Israel significantly dropped. "Despite of the restraint, the prime minister is evaluating the developments every day. As Abbas has been notified, Israel will not restrain itself if the fire continues," the official concluded.


Meanwhile, Israel's senior security officials convened at Defense Minister Amir Peretz's office Thursday evening to discuss the situation. The defense establishment is expected to recommend that Israel's policy against the Qassams be changed to allow the IDF more room for maneuver.


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