(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert this afternoon (Wednesday), 25 April 2007, held security consultations in the wake of yesterday’s events in the Gaza Strip. Defense Minister Amir Peretz, Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi, ISA Director Yuval Diskin and additional IDF and security establishment representatives attended.

It is believed that yesterday morning’s mortar and Kassam barrage was cover for a Hamas terrorist operation that was foiled due to proper deployment by IDF Southern Command. Participants in the consultation discussed a range of possible responses and their diplomatic and military repercussions.

Prime Minister Olmert praised IDF Southern Command for foiling the planned attack. Orders were given to improve readiness, as were directives for the continued deployment of forces around the Gaza Strip so as to foil additional attempted terrorist attacks.

Israel views with utmost gravity the terrorist actions that Hamas has undertaken in recent weeks. Following a short period in which it gave the appearance of partially observing a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip area, Hamas has decided to violate it. This violation began with the shooting of an Israel Electric Company employee at the Karni crossing a few weeks ago and continued with a series of attempted terrorist attacks against Israeli targets and the launching of rockets, up to yesterday’s events.

Israel needed no proof that Hamas is a terrorist organization that has never shelved the path of terrorism; Israel has worked accordingly among the international community since the establishment of the Hamas-led unity government. Hamas seeks both to sow terrorism and reap the benefits of sitting in a unity government. This contradiction is insoluble. This terrorist organization is continuing on the path of terrorism and is redoubling its efforts.

Given the foregoing, Israel will not hesitate to take sharp steps against those who try to attack its sovereignty – inter alia – by launching missiles at its territory and attempting to attack its soldiers.