Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert must have surprised the consular staffers and select group of VIPs celebrating July 4th at the American Embassy in Tel Aviv. Instead of addressing them in English, as he had probably planned to do, he delivered a speech in Hebrew that focused on an event about which many of the guest had probably not yet been briefed. Olmert referred to the event as being of unparalleled gravity. Here is a a translation of an excerpt from the speech he delivered at the embassy. The translation is based on digital video footage of the event provided by a source:
The rocket that landed today in the heart of Ashqelon is an unprecedented escalation in the terrorist war directed by the Hamas organization, which today rules the Palestinian Authority. Here and now we will say only that to this attack, to this failed attempt to hurt civilians living in the borders of the sovereign state of Israel, there will be a wide-ranging and yet-unseen response. Hamas will the first to notice this.Olmert also mentioned the soldier Gilad Shalit, who is still in the hands of Palestinian militants. He vowed that Israel would do everything it could to bring Shalit home safely, to which the audience responded with loud applause. It seems clear, however, that the IDF mission in Gaza, originally launched to free the captured soldier, has been turned into a ground operation against the Qassams. The Ashqelon attack has provided Olmert with further evidence to convince the court of world opinion about the necessity of serious measures against the rockets. (That the firing on Sderot was not enough seems profoundly unjust; it is true that Ashqelon has more strategic sites and a larger population, but the people of Sderot are worth no less than the residents of Ashqelon). Olmert also implicitly emphasized the city's presence within the 1967 borders - something which, of course, also applies to Sderot. In so doing, the Israeli PM has tried to persuade the world that Israel is acting as any other sovereign state would and must - something which the Europeans especially, not to mention the Jewish State's numerous enemies, have been slow to grasp. The American line continues to be one of implicit approval.