BARAK VOWS TO WIDEN GAZA OPERATION AS MUCH AS NEEDED

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Defense Minister Ehud Barak speaks
at a press conference Saturday

The IDF will deepen and widen its offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip as much as needed, Defense Minister Ehud Barak vowed Saturday afternoon in a press conference.

There is a time for cease-fires and a time to fight, and now is the time to fight,” Barak said. “For months the IDF and security forces have been preparing for the operation that began today.”

Barak stated that Israel had not intended to allow Hamas to continue to fire rockets into Israel without responding.

The defense minister warned that tough times lay ahead. “I don’t want to deceive anyone,” he said. “It won’t be easy and won’t be quick. We must be resolute.” Rocket attacks were expected to continue and to increase during the operation, he added.

“For weeks Hamas and its satellite groups have rained [Israel] with rockets…and mortar shells. We did not intend to let this situation continue,” he said.

In a statement released earlier by the Prime Minister’s Office, the government’s position regarding the operation was explained.

“Given Hamas violations of the ceasefire agreement and the unrelenting attacks on Israeli citizens in the south, a decision was made on Wednesday, December 24 by the Ministerial Committee on National Security, in which the IDF was ordered to act to bring about a cessation of rocket fire for a length of time,” the statement said.

See Related: GAZA 2008

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