Yesterday, the Palestinian flag was raised at the Israeli Prime Minister’s office and Olmert promised money to Abbas. Today, he is ready to release Palestinians held in Israeli prisons without any agreement in place to release Israeli Corporal Shalit as a measure of ‘good will’. Ynet Reports:
A day following his meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert tried Sunday to see whether his ministers would be willing to consider the release of Palestinian prisoners in the near future.
"It's time to show flexibility and generosity on this issue," Olmert said during a cabinet meeting, "this view may differ from the ones expressed in previous cabinet meetings, but this is my opinion."
Olmert reported that the matter has been discussed during his meeting with Abbas Saturday, and hinted that the coming Muslim holiday could serve as an appropriate date for the release: "It is customary to make such a gesture on Eid el-Adha." The prime minister consulted several of his ministers on the issue. Vice Premier Shimon Peres said that there was no reason to refrain from such a gesture prior to kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit's release, in a bid to strengthen the moderate Palestinian factions and Abbas. Defense Minister Amir Peretz and Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz also agreed that a gesture of goodwill was in order.
Olmert concluded that the matter will be discussed in the coming days, but stated that, "it must be noted that the situation has changed since the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit."
Sunday noon Defense Minister Peretz also hinted that other gestures to the Palestinians are expected in the future. "The gestures are an interest of Israel, and we are willing to extend some more," he stated.
The Palestinians answered this gesture of good will with one of their own.
A Qassam rocket was fired Sunday from the northern Gaza Strip and landed in a Sderot neighborhood, near a nursery school. Several children were inside the kindergarten at the time of the attack. The building and an electric pole were damaged, as well as some of the street lighting in the area.How long indeed.
Adi Rafael, who owns the apartment used by the nursery, told Ynet, "The rocket hit a hedge we built to separate between the nursery and the yard. This wall saved the children who were here, because it was very badly damages. Had the rocket hit the house, I don't want to think what would have happened."
"Some of the children are trembling and scared, and we are all quite shocked by what have happened here," he added. Avi Farhan, who lives nearby, rushed to the scene and said he plans to file a petition to the High Court of Justice in the coming days on behalf of Sderots' residents, calling on the government to instruct the army to act against the Qassam cells and put a stop to the attacks against Sderot.
"How long can the government continue to restrain itself, risking the residents of Sderot and the near-Gaza communities in the process?" Farhan asked, referring to a report in the cabinet meeting Sunday according to which the army was refraining from targeting Qassam cells.