Smiting. Olmert
Photo: Tess Scheflan, Jini

Olmert: Gaza operation not a one-time thing

Prime minister goes before Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, speaks of Gaza op, home front resilience and peace process

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appeared before the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday, where he briefed the ministers about Operation Warm Winter, taking place in the Gaza Strip.


"(The operation) was not a one-time thing," said Olmert. "Everything is possible – aerial and ground raids, special operations – everything is up for discussion. What we'll do, how we do it, when and why – they (Hamas) will feel it… we'll proceed according to our goals," he added.


Olmert also addressed the ongoing Qassam and Grad rocket fire on Sderot, Ashkelon and the western Negev communities. "The situation in Gaza clearly requires a different approach than the one we have been taking in the last few months.


"I say it again – this has nothing to do with the rocket fire on Ashkelon. The lives and quality of life of the residents of the Gaza vicinity communities is just as important to me as those of the rest of Israel's residents," said the PM.


As for the expanding rocket range Olmert told the committee that "While from an operational point of view the widening rocket range is something we must address, from a moral point of view, rocket fire on Netiv Ha'asara is no different from rocket fire on Ashkelon.


"I won't say what measures we are considering taking, so that the Palestinian murderers will not be able to prepare for it. We will continue according to our goals."


Long-term goals

Olmert further told the ministers he was aware of the criticism Israel's actions has provoked on part of the international community: "I've heard all the comments. No one in the world knows how to stop projectile fire completely with just a short-time operation. I believe what we're doing will accomplish the government's goals, namely seriously reducing rocket fire and weakening Hamas to the point where it can no longer run the Strip.


"The only way to do that is to systematically use different kinds of force, in different ways and different levels of intensity," added Olmert.


And what of the Gaza vicinity communities? "The population there is loosing its joie de vivre. Children are living in constant fear, anxious parents – no country can put up with this. We will forge ahead and that requires some resilience from the residents. We are doing everything we can to help the home front.


Olmert at the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee briefing (Photo: Gil Yohanan)


"If it wasn't for the peace process, Israel would have been completely outcast because of the Gaza situation, "continued Olmert; "but (the peace process) has own us some leeway and even some tolerance."


As for the Palestinian Authority's threat to suspend all negotiations with Israel, the prime minister said he believes the PA has no interest in halting it: "If we don’t push the process forward, we'll have to deal with the same thing in the West Bank – anyone who can't see it is lying to themselves. 


"There is no way to prevent the West Bank from turning into a second Gaza Strip without some sort of a political horizon in play. That should be up to a (Palestinian) government who wants to reach an agreement, denounces terror and is after peace.


"Today's Palestinian leadership wants that much more that the previous one – which we embraced…. We have to decide if what we want to a real political process, or to keep on acting so righteously that the Hamas will be able to take over the West Bank.

Not a one-time thing. IDF forces in Gaza (Photo: AFP)


"Our government policy is to strike Hamas down, since they are not interested in any kind of understanding; and to continue negotiating with the pragmatic factions of the PA.


"Should we be able to keep on negotiating on one hand, while smiting terror with the other, we will be able to reach our goals," said Olmert.


Prior to Olmert's Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, its members received a security briefing from military officials.


According to the IDF, more than 20 Grad rocket have been used in the shootings so far, all Iranian-made. The IDF struck the largest weapons lab in Gaza Strip, killing its operator – and unfortunately, since he was living on the premises with his family – they were killed as well.


During the meeting, Olmert slammed opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud), saying "there is noting you do better than distort things." 


פרסום ראשון: 03.03.08, 13:20
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