Olmert: Israel doesn't want military escalation in the Gaza Strip
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Sunday he wants to avoid a military escalation in the Gaza Strip but warned the army will react against rocket fire. "We do not wish to provoke an escalation, but we cannot ignore the continuing firing of Qassam rockets into southern towns and the attempts by terrorist commandoes to infiltrate" Israeli territory, Olmert said at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting.
"We have sent a very clear signal on this matter to Palestinian authorities and foreign leaders," he stated, according to AFP.
"Under no circumstances will we abstain from taking necessary measures to prevent these terrorists from putting in danger the residents of the south of the country," Olmert said.
On Saturday, a leader of Hamas justified the rocket attacks on Israel as "self defense." The comments came during a second day of meetings between exiled Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal and Abbas in the Cairo.
"It's the Palestinians' right to defend themselves," Mashaal said, adding the attacks came in revenge for the killings of nine Hamas supporters by Israel. "These are violations that needed a retaliation."