Olmert: Gaza operations to continue
Olmert rejected the EU's suggestion that Israel was using disproportionate force.
YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Monday put no time limit on military operations in Gaza designed to free an Israeli soldier abducted two weeks ago and rout out Palestinian militants firing missiles into Israel.
"It will continue in places, in time, in different measures that will suit the purposes that were outlined," Olmert said, speaking to reporters at a Foreign Press Association conference. He said the military would continue to take action as long as Qassam rockets were fired into Israel.
The prime minister rejected the European Union's suggestion that Israel was using disproportionate force to respond to the Palestinian rocket attacks that have continued since Jerusalem's military pullout from the territory in September.
"When was the last time that the European Union condemned this shooting and suggested effective measures to stop it?" Olmert asked. He said Palestinian militants had fired rockets into Israel every day since the military pullout.
"The response was terror and terror and terror and terror again," Olmert said.
Olmert said despite rounding up and arresting some of its politicians, Israel had no particular desire to topple the Hamas-led government.
But added: "We have a desire to stop terrorists from inflicting terror on the Israeli people."
In developments in Gaza Monday, Palestinian security sources said one person was killed in an early morning airstrike near Karni. The Israel Defense Forces said a strike was launched on a gunman who was near a border security fence a short distance from Karni crossing.
On Sunday, Israel rejected a weekend cease-fire offer by Palestinian leader Ismael Haniya, saying it would not halt operations in Gaza until those goals were met.
"The IDF will continue to act with determination against terrorist organizations and terror infrastructure in order to create the conditions for the return of Cpl. Gilad Shalit and to stop terror attacks and the launching of rockets towards Israel," a military statement said Sunday.
The Hamas-dominated Palestinian Authority has called on Israel to release Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit's freedom. Olmert tacitly refused, saying such a move was out of the question until attacks from Gaza stopped.
Sunday, Olmert said Israel had considered releasing some prisoners as a goodwill gesture before Shalit's kidnapping.
"It's not a secret before the kidnapping that we would free prisoners," he said. "But we intended to release them to moderate elements and not to terrorist elements."
But releasing prisoners now "means destroying the moderates in the Palestinian Authority, and would signal to the world that Israel can only talk to extremists," Olmert said.
On Saturday, the Palestinian Authority said it wanted to deal with the standoff diplomatically and intensify negotiations regarding Shalit. Hamas has said the soldier is alive and in good condition.
Israeli forces remain stationed in parts of Gaza's eastern region and in the south, where they are focused on the airport and other vacant buildings that are potential militant hideouts.
Palestinian medical sources say about 50 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since June 25, and about 175 were wounded. Israel has said its operations have targeted militants.
|© 2007 Cable News Network LP, LLLP.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.