Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert again has vowed to strike back at Gaza terrorists attacking Israel with mortars and Kassams, but Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, trying to close the gap behind Likud in pre-election polls, said she wants action now.
Israeli media Tuesday showed Prime Minister Olmert hugging a small child during a visit to Sderot and saying he was "very touched" by a letter from a sixth grader that life under rocket attacks is not normal.
He said he shares the feelings and fears of western Negev residents and added, "We do not for one moment tolerate such a lifestyle in which we have to run to shelters to hide from our enemies."
More than 7,000 mortars and rockets have fallen on Sderot and surrounding communities the past eight years, and there has been a sharp escalation in the past month following the complete breakdown of the virtual June 19 ceasefire with Gaza terrorists. They have attacked Israel with more than 200 rockets, including 21 Katyushas, in the past five weeks.
Terrorists have attacked Israel with more than 200 rockets, including 21 Katyushas, in the past five weeks.
"We know what needs to be done, we also know when and how to do it so that you won't live in fear [and] you won't have to run short of breath. We know what to do, how, and when and we will do it," Olmert vowed.
Livni, his successor as leader of the Kadima party, was not satisfied with the Prime Minister's latest statements, which echoed similar promises made in the past three years. She ridiculed the ceasefire, which was broken by Gaza terrorists since its implementation while Israel generally has restricted retaliation to closing Gaza crossings and occasionally hitting rocket-launching cells it is able to identify in the act of attacking.
"I am ashamed by the ceasefire," she said at a conference at Tel Aviv University. "Israel must respond to all fire. It will not stop the attacks, but the image also has a purpose. We are living in an area where image has meaning, and when the image is that Israel is weak, our deterrent ability is weakened," she said.
"If Hamas knows that Israel won't be quiet when missiles fall on Ashkelon, they will feel the responsibility on their shoulders," the Foreign Minister added.
The government has told the IDF not to retaliate except in "ticking bomb" situations of spotting a rocket-launching cell or terrorists planting bombs at the Gaza separation barrier.
Meanwhile, Labor party chairman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak has announced he will authorize the re-opening of Gaza crossings following the past 24 hours that have passed without a rocket attack.