Just a few hours before the ceasefire with the terror organizations of the Gaza Strip takes effect, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has
clarified his views on Hamas and
emphasized that Israel would continue to view it as an enemy of the State. He also mentioned that kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit would remain part of the deal, which he termed "fragile".
"I believe the south will have peace, but we have no illusions. The thing we call a lull is very fragile, and it may well be short-lived," Olmert said during a convention held by the philanthropic Sheatufim Center for Civil Society on Wednesday.
"Hamas and the terror organizations working as its delegates have not reversed their positions nor become peace-seekers. These are bloodthirsty terrorists that have remained as they were and evidence of this can be seen today, as they continue to attempt to harm Israeli citizens by any means. We have never, nor will we ever, negotiate with any terror organization," the prime minister said.
"I want it to be totally clear that Hamas is the official leader in Gaza and it will be held responsible for any breach in calm. If the terror attacks continue Israel will commit itself to acting towards halting any threat to its citizens. The cabinet has decided to order the defense minister and the IDF to be prepared for any operation required on short notice."
Olmert also spoke of Egypt's
part in the agreement. "Hosni Mubarak and his right hand man, Omar Suleiman, are both important allies to Israel in its efforts to instill calm and peace in the region," he said.
Despite Hamas' insistence in claiming that Gilad Shalit is not part of the deal, Olmert said that "Gilad Shalit's release is inseparable from the agreement on the conditions of the ceasefire.
"Next week will be the two-year anniversary of Gilad's abduction. His picture rests in my office, standing before me, and I look in his eyes every day and do everything in my power in order to make it possible for him to return to his parents, Noam and Aviva, and the rest of his family, alive and well. I have told them many times that except for them, no one else in the world wishes for his return so fondly," Olmert said.
"I send a warm hug to all of the residents of the south, who have withstood the long and difficult months, and years, with great courage and strength, facing the daily threat and allowing the government to act in an intelligent, restrained, and responsible manner," he added.
According to the agreement, the all-inclusive ceasefire will begin at 6 am on Thursday, and all of the organizations will be committed to it. The IDF will also hold its fire, and allow for the easing of Palestinian restrictions, including the opening of border crossings between Gaza and Israel. The Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt is to remain closed at this stage, however.