Olmert wants to avoid military escalation in Gaza


Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Sunday he wants to avoid a military escalation in the Gaza Strip but warned the army will react against rocket fire from the unruly territory.
“We do not wish to provoke an escalation, but we cannot ignore the continuing firing of Qassam rockets into southern towns and the attempts by terrorist commandoes to infiltrate” Israeli territory, Olmert said at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting.
“We have sent a very clear signal on this matter to Palestinian authorities and foreign leaders,” he said.
“Under no circumstances will we abstain from taking necessary measures to prevent these terrorists from putting in danger the residents of the south of the country,” Olmert said.
The armed wing of the Palestinian Hamas movement claimed to have fired dozens of projectiles into Israel on its Independence Day on Tuesday, declaring a five-month truce over after army raids killed nine Palestinians the previous weekend.
Two days later Palestinian factions said they would continue to abide by the truce, which took effect in the Gaza Strip on November 26, provided Israel extends it to the occupied West Bank.
Following Tuesday’s rocket barrage, Olmert ruled out a widescale operation inside Gaza but threatened to take “serious measures” against militants.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2007

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