Israel Reacts to Kassam Barrage, Asks for UN Help
In separate statements on Monday, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert implied that Israel will not vary its response to escalating Palestinian Authority rocket attacks on the Israeli town of Sderot, while
By the afternoon, there had been no discernible military escalation.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said that Israel will use "additional means." By the afternoon, there had been no discernible military escalation, but Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations said that he would ask the UN to intervene.
Speaking after a meeting with Austrian premier Alfred Gusenbacher, Prime Minister Olmert said that he views a series of rocket attacks on Sderot on Monday morning "very seriously." One rocket landed next to a day care center, sending 12 children to hospital with symptoms of shock. While saying that "we will not come to terms with [ongoing rocket attacks] and we will not let it go by," the Prime Minister also made it clear that the military response will not change.
According to Prime Minister Olmert, just as the residents of the PA paid a heavy price for rocket attacks in the past, so will they "pay a heavy price in the future." Similarly, Olmert said that Israel will continue to target the rocket-launching cells and their leaders: "Many of them were targeted in the past few months, and I am convinced that many will continue to be targeted in Israeli operations."
On the other hand, the Prime Minister declared that the government "will do everything possible to provide better security for the residents [of Sderot]." He did not mention how Israel is to achieve that goal.
Foreign Minister Livni, however, explicitly mentioned an Israeli escalation, albeit not a military one, saying, "One cannot accept a situation where Sderot children are living under threat while those in Gaza continue with their daily routine. We must use additional means, apart from military ones, to make clear to Gaza residents that their way of life is dependent on Israel." She made the comments during a meeting with the European Union's Representative for Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana. "The situation in Sderot is intolerable and unjustified," Livni declared.
Solana is in Israel for several meetings with Israeli and PA leaders. He has already met with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.
Ambiguous statements by Israeli leaders were seen as clear threats.
Among Hamas terrorist leaders, the ambiguous statements by Israeli leaders were seen as clear threats. "We are taking this new threat by Olmert seriously. We are warning of coming massacres against the people in Gaza," said a spokesman for the Islamist group.
While no Israeli military escalation was evident by Monday evening, Voice of Israel Radio reported that Israel plans to file an official complaint with the United Nations over the frequent terrorist rocket attacks on the western Negev. Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Dan Gillerman, said that he would speak to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and ask him to intervene to prevent the attacks. Israel's restraint is not unlimited, Gillerman warned.