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Ynet: "Olmert on Sderot: Anger is not an action plan"

"...residents' anger is 'understandable and natural, but what is needed is systematic and organized action over time."


Prime minister addresses rocket attack on southern town during weekly cabinet meeting, says residents' anger is 'understandable and natural, but what is needed is systematic and organized action over time.' Minister Dichter cites sections of Winograd report, says 'we mustn't conduct a strategy of luck.' Minister Yishai: Failure to make a significant decision on situation may lead to a catastrophe
Attila Somfalvi

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert responded Sunday morning to the anger in the southern town of Sderot following Saturday's Qassam attack which seriously injured eight-year-old Osher Tuito and his 19-year-old brother Rami.

"I wish the injured in Sderot a full recovery. There is no doubt that we all share the pain, and the anger is understandable and natural, but the anger is not a plan of action.

"We need systematic and organized action over time. We will go on and reach all elements of terror without being considerate towards anyone," the prime minister said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.

Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter chose to cite sections from the Winograd report into the Second Lebanon War, matching the conclusions to the reality in Gaza.

"The results of the raids are local and limited, causing dissatisfaction among the commanders and fighters," Dichter read. "In the meantime, the home front is under an extensive Qassam attack. The home front is sustaining casualties and its civil functioning is badly damaged, but no military operation is prepared to give an answer to the situation."

According to Dichter, "In 2008, 330 rockets were fired, one-third of the number fired during all of 2007. Only this weekend there were more than 40 Qassams. On Friday we were lucky, on Saturday we weren't lucky.

"We mustn't conduct a strategy of luck. The Gazan roulette is very problematic. Pressuring the terrorists is important and is both the IDF and the Shin Bet's work of art, but not only does this activity not bring an end to the rocket fire, but rather pushes Hamas and the others to increase the fire when there are more casualties.

"The assassinations increase the fire. We must determine a clearer strategy of the IDF's goals, what we expect from them. We must determine an objective for stopping the fire and work on three levels. The immediate move is to stop the fire. We must define an objective, and the IDF must tell us what it needs."

Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz also expressed his opinion on the current situation and Israel's activities.

"The objective of our activity in Gaza is undefined: Is it deterrence, is it reducing or stopping the Qassam fire or terror?We must determine as soon as possible what the goal is and derive the activity from there. The emphasis is on continuity.

"We must act forcefully against the four centers of gravity: Leadership, the military arms, infrastructures and the money. Why aren't we targeting (former Palestinian Foreign Minister) Mahmoud al-Zahar, who is responsible for stimulating the rocket fire?"

Mofaz, a former defense minister and IDF chief of staff, also addressed the suicide bombing in Dimona last week.

"Why did we stop building the fence in the Hebron area? Two governments budgeted this fence and approved it. It's a very serious failure. Someone should supervise the implementation of the government's decision."

Minister Eli Yishai said before entering the cabinet meeting that several discussions had been held regarding the reality in Sderot. "The right thing to do not is to decide. A failure to make a significant decision may lead to a catastrophe."

Before the cabinet meeting, Olmert met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin for a security discussion.

The defense minister visited Sderot earlier Sunday and toured the place where Saturday's rocket landed. He later met with Sderot Municipality workers and Mayor Eli Moyal, as well as with representatives of the Home Front Command, the police and other security officials.

Barak was accompanied by his deputy, Knesset Member Matan Vilnai (Labor), and Defense Ministry Deputy Director-General Victor Bar-Gil.

'No courage to look residents in the eyes?'

Residents who heard about the defense minister's visit to Sderot were furious. One of the residents said, "This is a phenomenon which we must pay attention to. The prime minister comes here in the night in the darkness, and the defense minister arrives before sunrise. Don't they have the courage to come here and look the residents in the eyes?"

Doctors at the Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon were forced Sunday to amputate part of the left leg of Osher Tuito, who was seriously injured in Saturday's rocket attack.

The boy's right leg was also seriously hurt. He was anaesthetized and his situation was reportedly stable.

Dr. Emil Chai, the hospital's deputy director-general, told Ynet, "When Osher arrived here, his leg was completely crushed. It was clear that we would probably have to amputate it. He underwent surgery during the night and we are trying to keep the second leg, but it's also in bad condition.

"Apart from that, he has a hole in his chest and his lungs are inured. We still fear an infection and are constantly on the lookout. His brother Rami was also operated on tonight. Both his legs are plastered now and we presume that he will be transferred to the orthopedic ward in the coming hours."