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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
President Shimon Peres may be known as a dove, but in no way could he be mistaken for an ostrich. On Tuesday, discussing security threats facing Israel in front of more than a thousand youngsters, he said that "if they shoot at us, we have to fire back without hesitation and without compromise."
Peres was speaking at Tel Aviv's Cameri Theater before an audience of Kibbutz Movement youth eager to do a year of volunteer work prior to being drafted. He called for national solidarity with Sderot, saying that everyone in the country had to stand with the city to strengthen its residents' morale.
When eight-year-old Osher Twito's leg was amputated, Peres said - referring to one of two brothers wounded in a weekend Kassam attack - "it was like amputating the leg of a whole generation. We all have to share the pain and anguish of his family and the suffering of the people of Sderot."
Peres said had visited the city several times and was tuned in to the distress of the population. He had listened intently to their complaints about the government's failure to provide sufficient protection against Kassams, and he was well aware that the government had the wherewithal to accommodate their needs.
The president said he would continue to convey that message to the government until positive steps were taken.
As to retaliation, Peres said that Israel was not seeking war and had no desire to hurt innocent people. "However, we will defend ourselves and not allow our enemies to harm our citizens," he stressed, adding that anyone who fired on Israel should not be surprised when Israel retaliated.
Peres declared that he had complete faith in the IDF and its ability to find a way to prevent Kassam rockets.
Addressing reports that Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and other Hamas leaders have gone underground to avoid assassination attempts by Israel, Peres said that Haniyeh knew he had committed crimes against his own people as well as against Israel. Haniyeh had nothing to offer the people of Gaza, who live in the clutch of terror, Peres said.