The Israeli Prime Minister says the ground offensive in Gaza was “unavoidable”. Ehud Olmert has spoken for the first time since the operation began, echoing comments from his defence minister that it will be a long campaign that could be widened if necessary.Despite worldwide criticism, and calls for an immediate halt to all hostilities, the Israeli cabinet is standing firm. Olmert insisted that Israel is not fighting the Palestinian population, but is targeting Hamas. But critics say not enough has been done to avoid civilian casualties. And in a warning to Hizbollah, Olmert also said that Israel does not want to open a new front along its border with Lebanon.