Abbas asks Rice to urge IDF restraint

Conversation follows call by Steinitz to launch ground offensive in Gaza.

yuval steinitz 298 88 (photo credit: Knesset Channel [file])
yuval steinitz 298 88
(photo credit: Knesset Channel [file])
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas spoke with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Friday night and asked Rice to convince Israel not to escalate its operations in the PA. The phone conversation between the two followed a call on Friday by Yuval Steinitz, former chairman of the parliamentary foreign affairs and defense committee, for IDF troops to mount a ground offensive into the Gaza Strip after Palestinian terrorists fired a fresh round of Kassam rockets at nearby Israeli targets earlier Friday morning. Steinitz said the PA had failed to prevent daily attacks by the homemade rockets and Israel must take steps to protect itself. "I call on the government of Israel to wait no further, but to launch a comprehensive ground operation in Gaza for several weeks, to strike at the very foundations of the terrorist infrastructure," the lawmaker from the Likud Party told Israel Radio. The IDF said Palestinians fired three rockets at Israel Friday. There were no initial reports of injury or damage. Senior military officers have said that they are prepared to send troops back into Gaza if necessary, but would only do so as a last resort. A senior IAF officer on Wednesday defended a botched air strike against alleged Palestinian terrorists in which two civilians were killed and 13 were wounded, saying that such operations were preferable to a ground operation. Abbas this week called on terrorist groups to halt the rocket fire, saying they would be held responsible for any IDF reprisal.