President Shimon Peres, who was scheduled to meet with former US Secretary of State George Shultz on Monday to discuss nuclear weapons, terror and threats to Israel in a new era, cancelled out on Monday morning to follow developments in the wake of Israel's raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla.

Peres was in consultation all day, keeping his finger on the pulse of evolving events and conducting telephone briefings with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Chief of General Staff Gabi Ashkenazi as well as top IDF brass to ensure that he would remain constantly updated.


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"Hamas has decided to prevent peace between the Palestinians and Israel," said Peres. "After Israel evacuated Gaza, Hamas turned it into a firing range against Israel and fired more than a thousand rockets at the Israeli civilian population. Hamas is constantly acquiring weapons and missiles via the sea and the tunnels. Hamas knows very well that it can choose the path of the Palestinian Authority and bring stability and blessings upon its people, but instead it has chosen the path of terror.

"Israel is a democratic country with an obligation to defend its citizens and cannot condone the arrival of Gaza-destined goods and ships without inspecting them. The violent and provocative flotilla was backed by Hamas, whose support was that of terror and opposition to peace.

"The vicious actions of the ship's passengers towards the commandos forced them to defend themselves.  Responsibility for the grave outcome lies wholly and solely with the organizers of the flotilla, whose real purpose was to create a provocation and not to deliver humanitarian aid. I regret the needless loss of life and urge both sides to exercise control."

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