Voices growing for Gaza offensive

Monday, October 23, 2006 |  by Staff Writer
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will convene the security cabinet this week to discuss possible options for a massive ground offensive in the Gaza Strip in light of the continuing rocket attacks into Israel, the massive smuggling of arms, and the fact that there has not been progress to release kidnapped soldier, Gilad Shalit.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz said ahead of the meeting not to settle for the political stalemate and there is a need to make every effort to strengthen the ties with Mahmoud Abbas, and also with the moderate Arab states. He added that a humanitarian crisis cannot be afforded. “It is bad for Israel and it serves the interests of the terror organizations. This is why there is a need to ease the pressure on the Palestinian people.

Peretz emphasized he does not intend to abandon Israel’s security, not to Kassam rockets and not to any other terrorist attacks. The military effort will continue without hesitation. The Israel Defense Forces and the security system will act anywhere it is needed, in the launch sites and other places. Peretz added that “we have no intention to conquer Gaza and occupy it, but it is our duty to act against any terror element which tries to hurt Israel. We must not allow Gaza to turn into Lebanon II. We will continue to act any place it is needed. The offensive initiative is on our side, and we need to prevent an uncontrollable escalation in violence.”

Shas party Chairman, Minister Eli Yishai said that “there is a need to select a time to re-control the Philadelphi route. Before we withdrew from there, I warned it will turn into a nightmare. I will act to convene the proper meetings in order to establish a comprehensive action plan against the smuggling of weapons. The abandoning of the Philadelphi route is akin to opening the red carpet for terrorists to bring in weapons and maybe even more.”

Cabinet minister Rafi Eitan also said that the Philadelphi route must be controlled again for a lengthy period of time. “I would prefer that the Egyptians cooperate with us even though we sit on Philadelphi,” he said

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