Hamas responsible for Qassam attack, says Livni
Ministers to discuss response to attack on army base after Rosh Hashana. After meeting with French FM, Tzipi Lvini blames Hamas for attack, says Israel has tools to operate, but Qassams cannot be stopped. Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu demands ground operation in Gaza
Despite the Islamic Jihad's claim of responsibility for Tuesday's Qassam attack on Zikim army base, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni put the responsibility on Hamas.
"It makes no difference to me which organization claims responsibility, Gaza is completely controlled by Hamas," Livni said.
The foreign minister was speaking at a press conference after meeting with French counterpart Bernard Kouchner, which took place after the rocket attack on Zikim army base that left 67 soldiers wounded.
"We have the tools - not just militarily - to operate against Gaza and they should be used moderately. The truth should be told, even with these tools, the Qassams cannot be stopped," Livni added.
The "kitchen cabinet" ministers convening after the attack announced that an extended forum will continue to discuss how to respond to the incident on Sunday, after the Rosh Hashana break.
Commenting on Israel's current methods of action against Qassams, Livni said, "It is no secret that Israel needs to adopt an extremely different policy against the moderates and against Gaza and its extremists.
"It must be stated that dialogue with Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) does not give a short-term solution."
French Foreign Minister Kouchner expressed sorrow for Tuesday's incident and the continued Qassam attacks coming from the Gaza Strip.
Livni meeting with French FM Bernard Kouchner (photo: AP)
"Israel should defend its population," Kouchner said. "Nonetheless, the central issue should be negotiations with Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) and the West Bank," he added.
"These people attacking Israel do not want peace. But those that want to advance with the dialogue should be spoken to. I am optimistic about the results of this dialogue."
Kouchner was also asked about the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who also holds French citizenship.
"We did out best. We talked about it everywhere. We tried to protect him, to have him released, this includes going to Gaza and talking to those people. Now there is an embargo on Hamas and it makes it harder, but we have other channels and other ways, like through Egypt and the Red Cross," he said.
Kouchner said that he received a letter from the kidnapped solders' parents on Monday, and planned to invite the families to Paris to continue efforts to have their children released.
Also responding to Tuesday's attack was Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who urged Olmert's government to operate in the Gaza Strip, and promised the Opposition would support any such action.
"A wide-scale ground operation in needed in Gaza, including seizing the area from which Qassams are fired on Sderot and the western Negev," Netanyahu said, after meeting with the French foreign minister.
Atilla Somfalvi contributed to this report