In an interview with an Arabic-language television broadcaster, Israel's outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called on residents of Gaza to help stop Hamas from firing rockets and mortars into Israel from the territory.
Reuters - Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Thursday issued a "last-minute" appeal to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to reject their Hamas rulers and stop rocket fire at
His comments were the clearest indication yet that Israel was preparing a possible
Israeli political sources said Olmert's security cabinet approved a "staged" military escalation, beginning with air strikes against a wider range of Hamas targets in the densely-populated enclave.
A large-scale operation has yet to be authorised but could get a green light depending on Hamas's response, the sources said.
Olmert told Al Arabiya television, an Arab broadcaster widely watched in
Olmert has resisted calls within Israel for a major military operation against Hamas, but rocket and mortar fire from the coastal enclave since a six-month truce brokered by Egypt expired last week has increased pressure on him to act.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, a leading candidate to replace Olmert in a Feb. 10 election, held emergency talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in
Livni said Hamas had to pay for "unbearable" rocket fire, declaring: "Enough is enough."
Adding to the sabre-rattling, army chief Gabi Ashkenazi said
In a sign any fighting with
In response to world appeals and a reduction in rocket fire from Gaza, Israel agreed later to let about 100 trucks carrying food, humanitarian aid, grain and animal feed travel into Gaza on Friday through two crossings, officials on both sides said.
Since the ceasefire ended on Friday, more than 200 rockets and mortar shells have been fired at
But rocket fire from
In the Al Arabiya interview, Olmert issued what amounted to a public call to Gazans to overthrow their Hamas leaders to prevent an escalation with
"I'm telling them now. It may be the last minute. I'm telling them. Stop it. We are stronger. There will be more blood there. Who wants it? We don't want it," Olmert said.
Olmert questioned whether Hamas's stance was consistent with Islam. "Is the spirit of Islam to kill innocent children, to fire rockets at kindergartens and civilians? I don't think that is the spirit of Islam," Olmert said.
Date created : 2008-12-26