Daily Israel Report

Olmert: The Quiet May Not Last

Olmert visits Sderot and receives praise for Cast Lead, but admits: The current calm may not last for long.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 1/22/2009, 9:04 PM

GPO / Flash 90

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert visited the city of Sderot on Thursday and was complimented by residents for taking a stand against Hamas attacks. However, he admitted that the calm achieved by fighting Hamas may not last, saying, “we live in an uncertain region.”

Olmert was photographed as he embraced senior citizens in Sderot and ate in a local restaurant. Rocket attacks on the city have come to a halt for the time being, after Hamas announced a temporary ceasefire following the Cast Lead operation, in which hundreds of the group's troops were killed and much of its infrastructure was demolished.

Hamas continued firing rockets into Israel up to and including the last day of the war.

Residents thanked Olmert for ordering the operation. Local children are certain that the rockets will return, “but we wanted to say thank you,” one teacher said. “As someone who sat and was attacked for eight years, I say, you've restored our dignity,” said Sderot mayor David Buskila.

During his visit, Olmert expressed satisfaction with the relative calm, adding, “I hope it will last.” However, he admitted that there was no guarantee attacks would not resume. “We live in a severely uncertain region, we have neighbors whose responses can't be anticipated,” he said.

Olmert defended his decision not to respond to rocket attacks on the south for years. “The strength of Israel's response lies precisely in the fact that we did not hurry to act,” he argued.

Olmert also mentioned kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who was not retrieved as part of the operation. As usual, Olmert refused to discuss plans to obtain Shalit's release, but insisted that action is being taken. “Once Gilad comes home we can tell the story, and then we'll know who supported what, who pressured and who requested what,” he said.

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