Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Cabinet ministers on Sunday that negotiating for the release of abducted soldier Gilad Shalit will encourage more kidnappings and said, "We will not hold negotiations with Hamas – we will not hold negotiations with terrorists."
Olmert, referring to the operation in Gaza said, "This is a war that cannot be bound by time," and asked ministers to abstain from commenting on behind the scenes efforts to release the soldier. He also said, "We will continue this battle with restraint, patience and timeliness, while using the right tools."
Defense Minister Amir Peretz said that the operation will continue, will require incursions and withdrawals and will focus on Kassam launch sites as well as areas where the tunnels are suspected to have been dug. “We haven’t yet succeeded, but we need patience,” he said.
During the Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday, Security Minister Avi Dichter made it clear that he is opposed to a deal in which terrorists are released in exchange for the abducted soldier. He expressed that the nation is facing a war of attrition and that 200,000 Israeli civilians are under threat. He added that there is a high probability of Kassam rocket attacks which may take its toll on civilian lives. Dichter added, “The question is, will Israel respond only then or should it respond now?” “I wish to emphasize again our demand that the Kassam threat to Sderot and Ashkelon be ended," he said.
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