Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said while touring Beersheba Thursday morning that "We have no interest in a long war; we do not desire a broad campaign. We want calm and a normal existence for the residents of the South. We want children to grow up there with sense of security, rather than with fear and nightmares."
During his visit the PM, who met with local council heads, dispelled reports of disagreements with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni over the operation. "We are all working together. I won’t allow campaign politics to enter the room in which we reach our decisions," he said.
Turning his attention to Hamas, Olmert said "they are making it difficult for us, but they are making it much more difficult on the Palestinian people. We will treat the Palestinian civilians with kid gloves and provide humanitarian aid. There will not be a food shortage in Gaza.
"We did not declare war on Gaza's residents, but we will deal with Hamas with an iron fist. We will ensure that the fabric of Gazan society won't be damaged so that we can exist side by side, but it is our job to protect the residents of south Israel," he added.
"I said that we do not crave war, but we do not fear it either. We don't want to display our might, but we will employ it if necessary."