Prime Minsiter Ehud Olmert
Defense Minister Amir Peretz
Photo: Niv Calderon
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh
Report: Olmert orders targeting of Hamas leadership
British newspaper 'The Sunday Times' reports that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert instructs heads of defense establishment to target members of Hamas political leadership in desperate attempt to stop Qassam rockets. Israeli security officials reported to newspaper that Israel will no longer allow Hamas political leadership in West Bank, Gaza Strip, and abroad to 'escape responsibility'
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert instructed the heads of the defense establishment to target members of the Hamas leadership. This was reported by British newspaper The Sunday Times. Israeli security sources reported to the newspaper that the decision was made in cooperation with Defense Minister Amir Peretz.
According to the report, the decision was made on the background of the fatal Qassam rocket that landed Wednesday in Sderot that killed Faina Slotzker and robbed one of Peretz's bodyguards of his legs. After the incident, the newspaper writes, Israel decided in a desperate attempt to stop the Qassam rockets, not to allow Hamas political leadership in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and abroad to "escape responsibility" any longer.
The Sunday Times reported that Peretz was the one who advocated the change in tactics against Hamas. According to the report, the defense minister broke out in tears when he heard that one of his bodyguards was seriously wounded by rocket shrapnel and that his legs were amputated. The young man was injured while guarding Peretz's house in Sderot.
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Since the IDF completed its withdrawal from the Gaza Strip during the disengagement, Israel has avoided physically hurting the political leadership of Hamas, and instead focused on targeting only those active in the military wing of the organization.
However, the Israelis moves have yet to stop the rockets. Saturday night, the firing continued and two Qassam rockets were fired into a western Negev town. No one was hurt and no damage was caused.
Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that Hamas leaders "have to disappear, go to paradise, all of them."
In an interview with Voice of Israel, the minister explained: " There is no point in targeting refugee camps and Beit Hanoun and all such places. For those people, who live on ten shekels a day, there is nothing to lose. When they are killed, they recruit themselves gladly. We have to focus on those who have something to lose - the leaders of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.”
The British newspaper mentioned Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin's comments that he made last week in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. "The Gaza Strip is about to turn into the biggest terrorist compound on earth. We have no choice but to consider a massive military operation there," Diskin said.
Diskin recommended trying to strengthen Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, because he is widely viewed as a moderate and an antidote to the increasingly rampant extremism amongst the Palestinians.