PM: We have no interest in a long war

But on visit to rocket-hit Beersheba, prime minister says, "We'll use our full might if we need to."

Olmert Beersheba control room 248.88 (photo credit: GPO)
Olmert Beersheba control room 248.88
(photo credit: GPO)
"We have no interest in conducting a protracted campaign," said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Thursday, the sixth day of the IDF's Operation Cast Lead. "We are not longing for a wide-scale war, but we want quiet and we want the lives of southerners to change so that our children can grow up in security, without fear and nightmares." Speaking on a visit to rocket-hit Beersheba, the prime minister said that southerners shouldn't have to run from "the whistles of missiles and Kassams." Olmert met municipality heads from the area and security officials, including Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i and OC Home Front Command Yair Golan. Olmert stressed, once again, that despite the government's transitional status, there was full cooperation on the political level concerning the Gaza operation. "There is a government and a cabinet and a leadership that is working with full cooperation," he said. "I will not let pre-election politics enter the room where we make decisions. It is true that outside there is an election campaign, but it doesn't interest me. I won't let it interfere…we are all working together, 100 percent." Referring to Hamas's apparent defiance, Olmert said, "They're a burden for us, but they're more burdensome for the Palestinian people." "As I have said, we will treat the Palestinian civilians will kid gloves. We will provide humanitarian aid and medicine. There will be no food shortage," he continued. "We have not declared war on millions of Gazans; we don't want anything to happen to their children that we wouldn't want happening to ours." The prime minister emphasized, one again, that Israel would act against Hamas and terror with "an iron fist," adding that it was Hamas that was causing "great harm to its people." "This time, as opposed to in the past, there is no feeling of caving in," the prime minister asserted. "There is a sense of dealing with problems and responding quickly." "I said that we're not longing for war, but we are not afraid of it," Olmert concluded. "We don't want to use our full might, but we will if we need to."