Daily Israel Report

Olmert Threatens "Iron Fist" Against Terrorism

In joint press conference with Pres. Katzav, Acting PM Olmert threatened "iron fist against any attempt to renew terrorist war." Katzav criticized for appearing with Olmert so close to elections.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 3/2/2006, 10:02 AM / Last Update: 3/2/2006, 8:41 AM

Ehud Olmert of the Kadima Party, currently the leading candidate in the Prime Ministerial elections 26 days from now, threatened to fight against "any budding of terrorism, as we have seen in several places of late." He made the remarks following the latest terrorist attack: this morning's stabbing in the northern Jerusalem industrial zone. The victim, listed in moderate condition, is being treated in Hadassah Hospital for wounds to the neck.

In addition, six Kassam rockets were fired this morning, and five yesterday. Today's rockets hit open areas near Sderot and in the western Negev, causing no casualties or damage.

Olmert said he has no intention of meeting new Hamas Authority leader Ismail Haniye. He emphasized that he had given the order to "remove all restrictions" against the security forces so that they "could do everything necessary to fight terrorism."

At least one restriction has not been removed, however: that which prevents the army from entering Gaza and battling terrorists frontally. The IDF continued today battling the rocket launchers as it has until now, firing artillery at areas from which the rockets are fired. The army has also carried out occasional targeted attacks against known terrorists.

Olmert met with Katzav before the press conference for their monthly briefing. The Shinui and Meretz parties castigated Katzav for appearing with Olmert at a public event of this nature so soon before the elections.

A statement by the Shinui Party called the joint press conference a "clear case of inappropriate political intervention. The President of the State is the figure who represents Israel's public, and it is not appropriate for him to conduct a joint press conference with one of the candidates so close to the elections."

MK Zahava Gal'on (Meretz) dismissed Olmert's bellicose threats, saying, "Everyone knows how to fight terrorism, but only a few know how to make peace."

Gal'on, a Peace Now sympathizer, said also that Olmert "tripped up" the President by "using him as an ornament for his own political purposes."