Obama to 'Post': Sderot rocket attacks must be stopped

Obama meets Osher Twito, the eight-year-old Sderot boy who lost his leg to a Kassam attack in March.

obama kassam 224 88 (photo credit: Israel Police)
obama kassam 224 88
(photo credit: Israel Police)
Hamas's firing of Iranian-made rockets at civilian targets in the South "has to be brought to a stop," US Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama told The Jerusalem Post after completing a tour of Sderot on Wednesday.Southern District Police head Cmdr. Uri Bar-Lev showed Obama several types of rockets fired at the western Negev and told him of their Iranian origins.Obama also met Osher Twito, the eight-year-old Sderot boy who lost his leg to a Kassam attack in March."It's heartbreaking for me to see a little boy hurt [by these weapons]," Obama said. "All of the terrorist parties involved will not achieve their purpose.""I explained to Obama that a number of the shells and Grad missiles which landed here were made in Iran. They have the signature of being Iranian-made," Bar-Lev said. "Obama was very surprised."Back in the US, Obama has come under fire by Republican candidate John McCain for his proposal to engage the Islamic Republic in direct diplomacy.During a press conference he held outside Sderot's police station, against the background of hundreds of burned-out Palestinian rockets, Obama said he would like to "offer a series of big sticks and big carrots to the Iranian regime to stand down on nuclear weapons."But, he added, "what I have also said... is that I will take no options off the table in dealing with this potential Iranian threat."He described a nuclear-armed Iran as posing a "grave threat" to Israel and the US.Obama used the press conference to try and reassure Israelis and potential American Jewish voters that his position on Jerusalem - which he said during an AIPAC conference last month was Israel's undivided capital - remained unaltered, despite apparent attempts by him and his aides to backtrack on the statement after encountering Palestinian wrath."I have said that before, and I will say it again," Obama said, in reference to his AIPAC statement. "I also have said that it is important that we don't simply slice the city in half, but I've also said that that's a final-status issue. That's an issue that has to be dealt with by the parties involved, the Palestinians and the Israelis. It's not the United States' job to dictate the form... that will take, but rather to support the efforts that are being made right now to resolve these very difficult issues."Obama noted that "the State of Israel faces determined enemies who seek its destruction," but added that "it also has a friend and ally in the United States that will always stand by the people of Israel."The Democratic presidential candidate said that if he were voted in as president, he would immediately engage Israel and the Palestinian Authority to help along peace talks between the two sides."I also believe strongly that it is in the interest of Israel's security to arrive at a lasting peace with the Palestinian people," he said, though he added that it would be pointless to have a peace agreement that did not have a concrete impact on the region."We don't need a peace deal if we just have a piece of paper," he said.Batsheva Zitun, a senior community police officer in the Southern District, said Osher Twito was "very excited" to meet with Obama, and insisted on leaving the Tel Hashomer hospital where he was receiving medication for his wounds to meet with him."He asked Obama to be the president of peace in the world," Zitun said.