Olmert: We know how to handle terror

Says large-scale ground incursion into either West Bank or Gaza is unlikely.

olmert 298 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
olmert 298 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reacted to Monday's terrorist attack in Tel Aviv soon after it occurred, telling the Kadima faction in the Knesset that Israel "will know how to respond." Olmert, who held consultations with security officials Monday and is expected to meet Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz Tuesday to hear his recommendations, said that Israel was investigating what exactly had occurred and who was responsible. "It is not something we did not suspect would happen," Olmert said. "We know terrorist elements are trying all the time to find opportunities to carry out attacks inside Israel. We will know how to respond, and will continue to act with all the means at our disposal to prevent further terror attempts," he said. One senior official in the Prime Minister's Office said not to expect any drastic changes in Israel's anti-terror policy, and that the policy of sustained action against the terrorist organizations would continue. He said that any large-scale ground incursion either into the West Bank or into Gaza was unlikely, but that the army would continue making forays into both areas on a "case-by-case" basis. The official said that targeted assassinations would continue, and that if Hamas members were involved in terrorist actions, they would be targeted. The official said that Israel had a "serious problem" with those who bring illegal Palestinian workers into Israel, which is being used as channel for bringing in terrorists. He said to expect more restrictive measures to illegal workers from coming into Israel, meaning more roadblocks, patrols and searches of cars. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, meanwhile, issued a statement saying that the attack was "carried out with the expressed purpose of killing Israeli citizens in the midst of their Passover holiday." She called upon the world's leaders to "take a clear and uncompromising stand against Palestinian terrorism - for terrorism is terrorism. "Only a clear and unequivocal voice and a determined stance on the part of the international community can bring about a future in which the Palestinian leadership will renounce and confront terrorism and will recognize the right of the State of Israel to exist as a Jewish State, and the right of its citizens to life," Livni said. US Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice called Livni to condemn the attack, according to Foreign Ministry officials. President Moshe Katsav, speaking at a ceremony in the plaza of Jerusalem's Great Synagogue, that he was perplexed by the silence of Islamic spiritual leaders whenever terrorist attacks were carried out against Israelis by young Palestinians. "We are the ones who tell them that this is counter to the teachings of the Koran," he said. "Why are the Imams not saying this? There is no religious justification for killing people of another faith." Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar said "Even though we are pained by today's events, we will not break. We will rise and continue - because that is the strength of Israel. There was not a place in the world in which Jews lived where they were not persecuted and killed, he said. "Now, we are seeing it again." Greer Fay Cashman contributed to this report.