"There are those who are trying to discourage us from the possibility of peace. But we have been through worse times than these," said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in his first public address since the murder of
eight Israeli students at the hands of a Palestinian terrorist in Jerusalem's Mercaz Harav rabbinical seminary on Thursday.
"There is a direct link between the Qassam rockets and the terror attack in Jerusalem. Both are intended to make our lives unbearable," the prime minister said at an event in the city of Holon on Saturday evening, "but just as we achieved deterrence against Hizbullah, which hasn't dared to fire a single rocket in a year and a half – so we will achieve deterrence against the terror organizations," he said.
Olmert praised the yeshiva as a growing place for leaders of the Religious Zionism movement. "For me the Mercaz Harav yeshiva was a home of sorts for years, a place where one met the salt of the earth," he said.
"No differences of opinion can cast a shadow on the respect for this community… The terrorist knew all too well where he was, and who to target – the best of our sons, who are motivated out of a commitment to the people and the land. He slaughtered eight students in cold blood, in a place where we thought no harm would come to any Jew," said Olmert.
The prime minister's comments came a short while after police confirmed the arrests of eight people suspected of being involved in the shooting. Investigators believe that the attack was planned in advance of Israel's operation in Gaza against Palestinian rocket cells and the terrorist likely gathered intelligence about the yeshiva for some time.
"The cabinet has authorized decisions which we are now preparing to implement. But for now what is needed is endurance and determination.
"Our existential struggle for survival is a day-to-day and hour-to-hour battle. We do not know where the end will come from, but we will triumph," said the prime minister.