The prime minister said that the restraint Israel has displayed thus far in reaction to the ongoing rocket attacks from Palestinian Authority-controlled Gaza will soon end.



"Over 40 rockets landed in Israel since the ceasefire and the last one was fired as we speak," Prime Minister Olmert said during a joint press conference with the Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg in Jerusalem. A barrage of six Kassam rockets fired by elements in the PA struck targets in the western Negev during the meeting between Olmert and his Norwegian guest.



Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attacks, which sent one person into shock and nearly slammed into a gathering of hundreds of children in Sderot. One of the rockets landed just south of the city of Ashkelon, on Israel's southern coast.



Regarding Syria, the prime minister reiterated his position that recent talk of negotiations by Syrian officials are "false pretenses" that Israel does not accept. "Syria continues to support terror in Iraq, is collaborating with the Iranian president and is sparing no effort to topple the government of [Fouad] Siniora [in Lebanon]," Olmert said, also noting Assad's ongoing support for the Hizbullah and Hamas terrorist organizations. He claimed that Syria has prevented progress in negotiations to obtain the release of kidnapped IDF corporal Gilad Shalit, held by Hamas.



Regarding rumors that he and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas would meet in coming days, Olmert said, "If it is possible to make [Abbas] happy and myself happy, I see no reason not to do so, and I hope this will happen very soon."



During a visit to an IDF headquarters in the Galilee on Tuesday, Defense Amir Peretz said that Israel would respond harshly to any provocations by Hizbullah forces in Lebanon. According to a report by the Ha'aretz newspaper, Peretz's statements reflected a recommendation by senior IDF officers that even small offenses - including rock-throwing and hanging Hizbullah flags on the border fence - be treated severely. Peretz said that Israel will not "return to the situation preceding the second Lebanon war."



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