PM: We reserve right to renew op

Speaking at cabinet meeting, Olmert says world now understands "that Hamas is Iran's Gaza branch."

January 18, 2009 11:54
2 minute read.
PM: We reserve right to renew op

cabinet meeting during truce 248.88ap. (photo credit: AP)


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Following the renewal of Gaza rocket-fire after the start of an Israeli unilateral cease-fire in the Strip, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that the morning's events showed how "fragile" the truce was and emphasized that Israel would renew the military offensive in the territory if the attacks don't stop. "We are monitoring all of the developments, minute after minute, hour after hour," the prime minister said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. "The military forces in the Strip have their eyes wide open, are attentive to any rustle and ready for any order from their commanders," Olmert continued. "The decision on the cease-fire leaves Israel the right to react and renew its military actions if the terror groups continue firing," he said. Olmert also had warm words for Likud chairman and opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu. "I would like to praise the opposition leader for supporting the government during the operation and explaining Israel's position to the world," he said. The prime minister also hailed Egypt. "Egypt's backing of the understanding that we hold fire while the IDF remains in Gaza is not to be taken for granted, this is no trivial matter," he said, adding that it showed Egypt's determination to prevent arms smuggling through its border. "All the world agrees that Hamas's arming must be stopped," he continued, stressing that now, after the operation, the entire world understands "that Hamas is Iran's Gaza branch." Before the meeting, Shas chairman Eli Yishai, who voted against the cease-fire at Saturday night's security cabinet meeting, said that "as long as [captured IDF soldier Gilad] Schalit is not home, the IDF mustn't cease its fire. I am not opposed to a new-type of ground deployment in Gaza, but we must continue air strikes." Similarly, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann said that "IDF troops are deployed in Gaza and I hope that they won't be pulled out without the Gilad Schalit issue being solved." Infrastructures Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said the army made the most of the first stages of the operation, but that "no one expected them [Gaza terrorists] to stop firing immediately after the cease-fire had gone into effect." Meanwhile, Meretz MK Zehava Gal-On criticized the decision to keep IDF troops in Gaza. "Remaining in Gaza is a prize for Hamas," she said in a statement. "The moment a unilateral cease-fire was agreed upon, the IDF should have pulled out of Gaza." "This is a continuation of the foolish move to deploy ground troops, which makes Israel responsible for what goes on there," the statement continued.

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