Olmert promises ‘no limit’ in fighting Hamas militants

Times Staff Writer

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday vowed to widen the fight against Hamas militants with fresh airstrikes after a Hamas rocket fired from the Gaza Strip killed an Israeli.

“No one involved in terror is immune,” Olmert said at his government’s weekly Cabinet meeting. “There will be no limit in acting against the terror groups and against those who are responsible for the terror.”

It was unclear whether Olmert’s comments meant that Israel plans to target Hamas political leaders, as it did during the Palestinian intifada, or uprising.


Hamas, meanwhile, rebuffed efforts by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to broker a cease-fire and said rocket attacks against Israel would continue.

For the last 12 days, Israel has been pressing a campaign of airstrikes and raids in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, killing at least 40 Palestinians, most of them militants. But the barrage of Hamas rockets fired from Gaza into Israel has not stopped, with more than 220 launched since May 15.

Oshri Oz, 35, was the second Israeli killed by the barrage in the last week. He died Sunday after a rocket struck near the car he was driving in the southern Israeli town of Sderot. Oz, a computer technician on a service call, died of shrapnel wounds.

Sunday night, two more rockets were fired into Sderot, one hitting a house and injuring a resident. The same night, Israel launched airstrikes on targets in northern and southern Gaza. No casualties were immediately reported.

Sderot, in the western Negev desert near the Gaza Strip, has received the brunt of the rocket attacks, and terrified residents are demanding better protection from the government. Children in Sderot were evacuated Sunday to towns farther from Gaza to attend school.

The sight of Israelis under attack puts additional pressure on the prime minister, already reeling from criticism of his handling of last summer’s war with Hezbollah in Lebanon.


Olmert, speaking at what turned out to be a stormy Cabinet meeting, cautioned that Israel faced a “long-term confrontation” and would have to act independently of any internal Palestinian agreements or calls to halt fire.

“We will decide where, how and to what extent we act,” Olmert said. “We are acting without any limitation or directive from anyone.”