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Olmert: Hamas responsible for bombing

In meeting with defense officials to discuss Israel's response to Monday's terror attack, prime minister states Hamas-led Palestinian government accountable for bombing. Officials decide on series of punitive measures against Palestinians, including pinpoint operations, stepping up activity in Jerusalem area

Israel sees the Palestinian government as responsible for Monday's deadly terrorist attack, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in a meeting with defense officials Tuesday. "The entire world will also know this. We see Hamas as responsible, and no source can escape such a responsibility. The Hamas government took responsibility because of the responses it released after the terror attack – and the significance of that is clear," Olmert stated.


The PM convened the meeting Tuesday morning to discuss Israel's response to Monday's suicide bombing in Tel Aviv. Heads of the defense establishment, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Internal security Minister Gideon Ezra attended the meeting.


During the meeting, a decision was not taken about a wide ground operation, but Olmert authorized Livni's recommendation, to revoke the citizenship and residency IDs of all ministers and members of the Palestinian parliament who are Israeli citizens – Mahmoud Abu Tir and two other parliament members.


Other decisions were taken about actual operation in the territories, which were not released for publication. It seems security forces will carry out pinpoint operation in reaction to the terror attack.


Shin Bet Head Yuval Diskin said during the meeting that since Hamas' ascension to power, there has been a rise in the will to carry out attacks. He said that 88 potential terrorists have been arrested, 11 of them in the last minute.


Diskin also spoke about crossings through the security fence, sand said that they had to be improved. It was decided that Police Chief Moshe Karadi will work on the issue.


It was also decided to increase the number of prison places for Palestinians who illegally entered Israel, and there are plans to create additional places with additional financial investment.


International activity to focus on Hamas


The prime minister initiated a meeting next week about the issue of Jerusalem suburbs. The meeting will decide all of the steps needed to complete construction of the security fence in that area. Those who attended the meeting severely criticized the High Court, which is delaying its decision over the issue of the construction of the security fence around Jerusalem, and it was decided next week to decide ways to pressure the judiciary. Judicial representatives will therefore also be invited to next week's meeting.


Courts were also criticized at the meeting for not handing down heavy enough punishments on those who transport and aid terrorists.


Olmert ordered Livni to concentrate activity around the world on the issue of Hamas responses after the terrorist attack, and praised the Shin Bet and the security forces for their work.


Victims laid to rest


A day after the attack, security forces continued to be on maximum alert across the country, with emphasis being put on placing roadblocks at the entrances to cities and within them.


Some of the attack's victims have been laid to rest on Tuesday, while 31 of the wounded remained hospitalized. Two of the injured are still in very serious condition, five are in serious condition, 15 sustained moderate wounds and another seven are in light condition.


Meanwhile, the IDF attacked overnight a workshop to manufacture Qassam rockets in Gaza. The workshop belongs to the Popular Resistance Committees organizations. The army stated that it was determined to continue operating in full force and with all the means at its disposal against any terror elements or those who support them.


Problematic timing


The timing of the attack, against the backdrop of Hamas' rise to power, and the attempt to prevent escalation, may limit the Israeli retaliation.


"It's not going to be a simple dilemma, to be ultimately decided on by political leader, on whether to 'break the rules' and retaliate harshly, or to intensify the existing efforts", a security official told Ynet Monday.


The timing of the attack apparently poses complicated situation for officials: On one hand Monday's bombing is a serious, deadly attack that claimed the lives of nine people and as such cannot be dismissed. On the other hand, the attack occurred when the IDF, the Shin Bet, and the police are in the midst of ongoing operations against terrorists in the West Bank.


Hanan Greenberg contributed to the report


פרסום ראשון: 04.18.06, 12:17
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