Olmert. international slalom
Photo: Reuters
Barak to back soldiers
Photo: AP

Olmert: Hamas turning victims into attackers

Prime minister tells government ministers terror organizations using different measures in order to harm Israel. Cabinet approves motion aimed at backing IDF soldiers, commanders in case of wave of lawsuits worldwide following Gaza operation

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert accused Hamas on Sunday of "attempting to turn the victim into the attacker and the attacker into the victim through a spiral moral policy.


Speaking at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Olmert addressed calls across the world to put Israel Defense Forces soldiers on trial over war crimes committed in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead.


The government approved a motion aimed at backing the IDF's soldiers and commanders in case of a wave of lawsuits worldwide following the operation.


The prime minister warned the world of what he defined as "the international slalom aimed at turning the aggressors into victims".


"This has been the policy of Hamas and the terror organizations for years, to fight until the last drop of blood of Gaza's residents and hurt them.


"After the operation, the terror organizations are attempting to use different measures to harm us. This is the legal arena. The truth is that they have fired immorally at us, aiming at children and parents rather than at soldiers and military facilities," Olmert said.


As for the situation created after the operation, Olmert told the ministers, "I toured Sderot on Thursday and discovered a new place and a different atmosphere. I hope the atmosphere in Sderot prevails also among residents of the cities in the firing range.


"Israel embarked on the operation in Gaza as a last resort and having no other choice, after trying all ways to bring calm to the south. Hamas made a mistake believing that Israel would not respond to the rocket fire. After the operation, the terror organizations are attempting to use different measures to harm Israel."


The prime minister stressed that the IDF was the most ethical army in the world. "Now, the terror organizations are trying to present the civilians hurt as an inevitable result of Israel's self-defense, turn the reality upside down and cast the responsibility of IDF soldiers rather than on those who caused terror for years.


"I am not familiar with a more ethical and decent army than the IDF. I have personally witnessed, and the defense minister and chief of staff can testify to this, many cases in which IDF soldiers refrained from executing operations and moved bombs from their course so as not to hurt civilians – even when terrorists were hiding within a civilian population."


Full legal backing for fighters

The draft resolution submitted to the cabinet by Defense Minister Ehud Barak is meant to provide IDF soldiers and commanders with moral and legal backing in wake of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.


"The government once again reiterates its commitment to stand by the IDF soldiers and commanders and provide them with protection in the international arena in matters concerning actions taken while serving as the State's emissaries," the resolution states.


"The IDF's soldiers and commanders operated according to moral standards and with full faith that their cause was just. The IDF is a moral and ethical army, and I know of no other army that implements such high standards," Barak wrote in the resolution. "There is no room for self-flagellation," he added.


The army is well aware of the international criticism leveled at Israel over its actions in Gaza.


Colonel Yigal Slovik, commander of the 401st Brigade of the Armor Corps, told Ynet on Thursday, "I have no qualms about the manner in which I operated. At worst I'll be denied entry to a few European countries. My subordinates and I have chosen this profession out of faith in the righteousness of our path; we sacrifice much more than a trip to London."


The draft resolution was formulated in cooperation between the Defense Ministry and the Justice Ministry. It also calls on the government to "express its appreciation and gratitude to the IDF on behalf of the State and its citizens. Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip realized the State's right and obligation, in line with the law of nations, to defend itself and its citizens."


פרסום ראשון: 01.25.09, 11:09
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