Olmert and Livni at the cabinet meeting
Photo: Flash 90

Top official: Decision on Gaza op made

Secret meeting between Prime Minister Olmert, Defense Minister Barak results in decision to have IDF stage scaled response to any terror attack from Strip. Tactical conditions, operational possibilities will dictate actions, says state official

The decision has been made: Right now Israel has to work towards getting international legitimization for an operation in Gaza, a senior source in Jerusalem told Ynet on Sunday.


"(Israel's) actions depend only on the tactical conditions and the operational possibilities," added the source. "Israel will react with all due force to any provocation by Hamas."


Following various security assessments by the defense establishment, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak met secretly last Thursday and decided that Israel would no longer practice a policy of restraint in view of terror attacks emanating from the Strip, opting instead for a scaled reaction.


Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was briefed on the decision shortly after it was made.


IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi was reportedly instructed to order the Israel Defense Forces to begin targeting quality Islamic Jihad marks. The Islamic Jihad had claimed responsibility for the recent rocket salvos in the western Negev.


Ashkenazi, who recommended the course of a scaled military response, ordered the Israel Air Force to prepare to strike Gaza target immediately. Several hours later, the IAF struck a Qassam warehouse and a rocket manufacturing facility deep in the Strip.


Another decision Olmert and Barak came to was the need to create an "international umbrella," meant to secure the international community support for a scaled military response to terror attacks. Barak then spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, while officials in the Defense Ministry briefed Egyptian Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman.


Olmert and Livni have agreed to brief other members of the international community of Israel's decision. PR and information efforts are said to focus on the US, the European Union and the 15 members of the United Nations Security Council.


At this time, however, any military operation in Gaza would require the personal authorization of Olmert, Barak and Livni, with Barak having the final say. The National Security Cabinet is expected to convene on the matter within a few days. 


פרסום ראשון: 12.21.08, 13:05
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