Israel’s Prime Minister has called on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to turn their backs on their Hamas leaders, and stop the rocket attacks which have intensified since the end of a ceasefire last week.
Ehud Olmert’s comments in an interview with an Arabic TV channel, which is widely watched in Gaza, have prompted strong speculation that Israel is preparing a heavy military offensive against Hamas. He told al-Arabiya: “We will not allow Hamas to continue to shoot at our people. I can tell you, we have the power, we have enormous power. We can do things which will be devastating, and I keep restrain (sic) myself. I keep restrain (sic) my friends all the time and tell them ‘let’s wait, let’s wait’.” Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni went to Egypt for emergency talks with President Hosni Mubarak. She said Hamas had to pay for what she called “unbearable” rocket fire. Mubarak urged Israel not to escalate hostilities, and after the meeting spoke to Hamas leaders in Gaza, asking them for calm to avoid inflaming Israeli military action. Israel allowed about 100 trucks carrying fuel and food into Gaza last week after international pressure. The borders have been closed in the hope that strangling essential supplies will weaken Hamas. But a Hamas spokesman in Gaza said Israel would “pay the price” for any attack.