Defense Minister Amir Peretz stated on Thursday that the incursion into northern Gaza early in the morning was a "necessary step that could not have been avoided." In a meeting with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and security officials, he asserted that IDF forces would continue to act resolutely against Palestinian terrorists, adding that the gradual approach to the military operation in the past two weeks established the legitimacy for the massive incursion into Gaza.
Shalit's father urges captors to negotiate
Earlier, at a memorial for one of Labor Party's founders Yitzhak Ben-Aharon, he said that Israel would withdraw from Gaza if Cpl. Gilad Shalit would be released and the Kassam rocket launches would cease.
"Return Gilad alive and well [and] stop the rocket launches, and we will return our soldiers to their bases," he said.
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He asserted that "We have no interest to sink in the Gaza swamp."
The defense minister insisted that Israel has done all it could to prevent hurting innocent Palestinians.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian newspaper Al Hayat al-Jadeeda reported that Hamas has demanded that Israel release 100 woman prisoners and 30 men who had already served 20 years, and not thousands as they had previously demanded in exchange for Shalit.