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Ahmadinejad: Israel to be Uprooted

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that Israel will be "uprooted" and its leaders tried for Saturdays counter-terror strikes on Gaza.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 3/1/2008, 11:20 PM / Last Update: 3/2/2008, 8:20 AM

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that Israel will be "uprooted" and its leaders tried for Saturdays counter-terror strikes on Gaza. Iran is a generous sponsor of terror activities and a primary patron of a number of terrorist organizations.

"I already said last year that the real Holocaust was in Palestine," Ahmadinejad told state television in an interview, alluding to his oft-repeated doubts about the magnitude of the mass slaughter of Jews in World War II. 

Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Ahmed Qureia suspended talks with Israel Saturday over stepped-up IDF operations which killed some 60 terrorists and wounded at least 60 others in Gaza, most of them members of Hamas.

Qureia officially notified Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni of the decision Saturday evening. She replied, "Even if the Palestinians suspend talks, it won't influence in any way the decisions or operations Israel carries out to defend its citizens. From the beginning, this was the basis of talks with the moderate elements in the Palestinian Authority."

The attacks on Gaza terrorists came after days of warnings by government officials there would be a "harsh response" if they did not cease attacking Israel with rockets, averaging two attacks per hour since last Wednesday.
The rocket attacks which resulted in the death of an innocent Israeli and injuries to many more must cease and are utterly to be condemned.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Saturday that Israel held Hamas responsible for the civilian casualties and would continue its operations to end the terror attacks on Israeli citizens.

"We are not happy about civilians being hurt in Gaza," said Barak in a statement. "Hamas and those who fire rockets at Israel are responsible and they will pay the price."

Six Israelis were wounded in missile attacks on the coastal city of Ashkelon Saturday, including two children, and many others suffered shock. There were a number of other attacks on Sderot as well, lightly wounding at least one person and sending others into shock. A total of 49 Israelis were taken to Barzilai Medical Center in the city.

Ronnie Yechiya, a husband and father of four who was a student at Sapir College adjacent to Sderot, was killed this past week in a rocket attack on the city, and a number of Jewish children have been seriously wounded recently by the missiles fired from northern Gaza. One young boy lost his leg when a rocket exploded three feet away from him as he frantically sought shelter.

Abbas: Attacks 'More Than Holocaust'
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas Saturday evening appealed to the United Nations to force Israel to end its attacks. "[Abbas] has asked for an urgent session of the Security Council," said PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rdainah in a statement.

Denouncing the attacks as "more than a Holocaust," Abbas called for "international protection for the Palestinian people," claiming that IDF attacks were aimed at "innocent women, children and old people." Abbas's doctoral thesis in 1983 dealt with denying the extent of the Holocaust.
 
Hamas, which rules Gaza, declared three days of mourning for the Gaza dead. The terrorist organization also said it would cancel classes in its schools on Sunday.

Foreign Reactions Divided
The official Jordanian news agency Petra quoted King Abdullah II as saying in a phone conversation with Abbas that the IDF operations were "a violation of all international conventions." He termed the IDF counterterrorist operations "a massacre."

The Egyptian Foreign also criticized the attacks on Gaza terrorists. "It is regretful that Israel carries out these operations without calculating the consequences on the adopted peace efforts," read the statement.

Both nations have peace treaties with Israel.

The Libyan Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing similar sentiments, calling on the Arab world to halt what it called an Israeli military campaign aimed at "wiping out the Palestinian people". 

The Bush administration issued a statement in Washington urging Jerusalem to "consider the consequences" of its Gaza military activities. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is still scheduled to arrive in Israel by mid-week and has added Egypt to her agenda.

Quartet Middle East envoy Tony Blair harshly condemned the constant rocket fire on southern Israel by Gaza terrorists while at the same time appealing to Israeli officials to avoid hurting Gaza civilians while trying to end the attacks on western Negev residents.

"The loss of civilian life including children is absolutely tragic," said Blair on Friday. "The rocket attacks which resulted in the death of an innocent Israeli and injuries to many more must cease and are utterly to be condemned."