Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (Courtesy Haaretz)
After six days of war, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told the Knesset and the world today he will fight until the terrorist threats of Hamas and Hezbollah are eliminated.
Emphasizing Israel did not ask for the conflict, Olmert said the Jewish state, nevertheless, will not back down from fighting.
“We stand at a national moment of truth. Will we agree to live under this evil threat or will we fight. … There is no more just struggle than that we are now engaged in,” Olmert said, according to Israel National News.
“Citizens of Israel, there are moments in the life of a nation, when it is compelled to look directly into the face of reality and say: Enough,” he said.
“And I say to everyone: Enough is enough. Israel will not be held hostage – not by terror gangs or by a terrorist authority or by any sovereign state.”
“There is nothing we want more than peace on all of our borders,” Olmert told the Knesset. But, he said, “Israel will not agree to live with rockets fired on its citizens. Only a nation that can protect its freedom deserves it.”
The prime minister once again affirmed Israel’s refusal to negotiate with Hezbollah and Hamas over kidnapped soldiers.
“It is of regional and international interest to control and dismantle the terror organizations and remove this threat from the Middle East,” he said. “We intend to do so.”
Olmert invoked the names of the grandmother and grandchild killed in a missile attack in Har Meron, 50-year-old Andrea Zeidman and teenager Ella Abouksis.
“Our enemies were mistaken to think that our desire to show restraint was a sign of weakness,” Olmert declared.
The prime minister offered condolences to families of the soldiers and civilians killed in the last week.
A terrorist attack last Wednesday on an IDF patrol along the northern border killed eight soldiers and resulted in the kidnapping of two others. The current crisis began with the capture June 25 of soldier Gilad Shalit.
Since Wednesday, Hezbollah has fired hundreds of rockets on northern Israel, including the third-largest city of Haifa, killing at least 12 civilians and wounding hundreds more. Israel has responded with bombardment of Hezbollah positions in southern Lebanon and the Beirut area, killing more than 200.
“I want to offer a big hug to the families of the kidnapped and to the sons themselves,” Olmert said.
The prime minister accused Iran and Syria of using Hezbollah and Hamas to wage war, saying the terrorist groups “are nothing but emissaries, sent and supplied by enemies of peace in Tehran and Damascus.”
Olmert said that even if Lebanon had not direct involvement in last Wednesday’s attack, “it holds full responsibility for the attack launched from its sovereign territory and the same goes for the [Palestinian Authority] with regard to the [June 25] attack.
“Opposite the Palestinians we will fight until terrorism ceases, Gilad Shalit is brought home and the Qassam rockets stop,” Olmert said. “We will attack every terrorist staging area, destroy every terrorist base and liquidate members of the terror groups. Israel will not agree to live in the shadow of the threat of missiles and rockets on its citizens.”
During his speech, Olmert recited a Jewish prayer for divine protection.
“I am more proud today than any other day in my life to be a citizen of the state of Israel,” Olmert concluded. “We will not surrender and we will not back down.”
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