Peres Advocates Talks, Cease Fire Despite Attacks

President calls to fight Hamas after rocket fire escalates, but holds out for peace talks with PA as riots rage - and even a ceasefire.

Shlomo Pitrikovsky, | updated: 14:50

Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres

President Shimon Peres addressed the tense security situation across Israel on Sunday, vowing both to bring the perpetrators of the abduction and murder of an Arab teenager to justice and to push for deterrence against Hamas. 

"Mohammed Abu Khder was murdered horribly," Peres began. The 16 year-old's body was found last week in the Jerusalem Forest. "The police are investigating the murder thoroughly and I am sure we will see results." 

"We will not sweep this under the rug," he added. "The culprits will be caught and punished to the full extent of the law - there is no difference between [Arab] blood and [Israeli] blood." 

Police arrested six suspects in the murder Sunday afternoon, hours after sources close to the case stated that it was highly likely to have been a nationalistic crime. 

Riots in Jerusalem and across Israel have exploded since Abu Khder's body was found last week, sparking waves of terror against Jews and Israelis over the assumption that the murder was a "revenge crime" for the murders of Israeli teens Naftali Frenkel (16), Gilad Sha'ar (16), and Eyal Yifrah (19).

'Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are not the same'

Peres also addressed the barrage of rocket fire from Gaza. Over 112 rockets have been fired on Israel since Wednesday and at least 137 have been fired in the past three weeks. 

"An important goal is to separate the Palestinian Authority (PA) from Hamas," Peres insisted. "Hamas is a terrorist organization that wants to kill, devastate, and hurt innocent people, while some Palestinians are moderates pushing for peace." 

"We must differentiate between the two and fight with all our might against terrorism," he added. 

Meanwhile, he rejected the many claims that Israel is ready to launch a full-scale assault on Gaza if rocket fire continues.

"The Israeli government has emphasized that if rocket fire ceases, we will not launch an assault on Gaza; it's plain and simple," he stated. "Israel has shown a decent amount of restraint so far, but if they do not cease fire, Israel will protect itself."

Hamas has been ignoring the IDF's ultimatum, which on Thursday called to stop the rocket fire within 48 hours or face war.

Several ministers and MKs have called for Israel to retake or attack Gaza and institute a "zero tolerance" policy against terrorism over the weekend, after Hamas rocket fire on Israel and violence against Jewish Israelis has increased dramatically.

Peres's statements fly in the face of something of a rare consensus among ministers Sunday, as even Justice Minister and peace talks advocate Tzipi Livni (HaTnua) admitted that 'there is no hope for peace' as long as Hamas is involved and called for action against the terrorists.