Israel’s Gaza Operation was put on hold Thursday – according to debkafile’s exclusive sources by a deadlocked dispute between prime minister Olmert
The armored forces and tanks which rolled into southern Gaza Tuesday night have been stationary for 24 hours, only directing desultory artillery fire at empty ground in the north.
Amir Peretz is blocking a swift and expeditious offensive urged by the prime minister’ Ehud Olmert and the IDF high command to rescue Gilead Shalit, the Israeli corporal kidnapped by Hamas Sunday, June 25, and eradicate the Qassam missile infrastructure.
Yet the prime minister is hesitating to pull rank and pass orders to the army over the defense minister’s head
Peretz is clinging to a policy of “restraint and diplomacy,” despite the complete breakdown of mediated negotiations in the early hours of the abduction. The prime minister’s office and general command report that no serious diplomatic bid to negotiate the soldier’s release has been floated for 48 hours. None of the intermediaries report progress, even the live wire, Egyptian intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman.
PMO officials and top commanders are furious with the defense minister and take strong exception to his assertion Thursday: “We stand at one of the most significant moments for setting new game rules between us and terrorist elements in the Palestinian Authority.” Terrorism is not a game, they say. Frustration with the defense minister was sensed in the speech delivered by the army chief Lt. Gen Dan Halutz at the passing out ceremony of fighter pilots. “Israeli citizens must never be hostages to rockets and the kidnappings of civilians and soldiers,” he said. “We dare not wait for casualties to justify a defensive operation. When someone wants to kill you, you must kill him first.”