(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon this morning (Tuesday), 18 January 2005, visited IDF forces in the Gaza Division.  The Prime Minister held a discussion with Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon, OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Dan Harel, Prime Minister Sharon’s Military Secretary Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj.-Gen. Yosef Mishlav, OC Gaza Brig.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, as well as Gaza Division brigade and battalion commanders, on various ideas on how to stop the firing of Kassam rockets and mortar shells at Jewish communities.

After the discussion, Prime Minister Sharon met with Gaza Division officers and soldiers and spoke with them about current activities in the Gaza Strip and the issue of refusal. The Prime Minister said: "I know that a great effort is being made here. This is a difficult area with considerable friction.  We appreciate your excellent work and I would like to thank you for it very much. However, we must take very strong special care to prevent the firing at the communities.”

Prime Minister Sharon made it clear that there is no difference between firing at Sderot, firing at Kfar Darom and firing at Gush Katif and added that the firing cannot continue.

On the diplomatic subject, Prime Minister Sharon said: “Abu Mazen doesn’t need an adjustment period, it’s not that he doesn’t know what’s happening on the ground, he knows the commanders and all the people.”