The Israeli Air Force is continuing to pound the Gaza Strip, in an attempt to win the freedom of an Israeli soldier, kidnapped a week ago. Israel is sending a tough message to the leaders of the Islamic militant group, Hamas, which heads the Palestinian Authority.
An Israeli helicopter fired two missiles at the empty office of Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas in Gaza City, setting it ablaze. Hours later, at the weekly Cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he will do whatever it takes to win the release of the kidnapped soldier.
"We will strike at anyone who harms the citizens of Israel," Mr. Olmert said. "No one will be immune."
Israel holds the Hamas government responsible for the kidnapping, because gunmen from the group took part in the raid on an Israeli army base a week ago, in which the 19-year-old corporal was seized.
Visiting his demolished office, Mr. Haniyeh accused Israel of arrogance, and said nothing will break the steadfastness of the Palestinian people. Moderate Palestinian legislator Saeb Erekat said Israeli actions are harming diplomatic efforts to win the release of the soldier.
"Military solutions will produce violence," Erekat says. "Violence will breed more violence, bullets will breed more bullets and hatred will generate more of the same."
In an attempt to ease a looming humanitarian crisis brought on by five nights of air strikes, Israel reopened its main cargo crossing into Gaza, allowing food, medical supplies and fuel to be shipped across the border. Israeli spokesman Ra'anan Gissin says Israel is targeting what he called the "Hamas terrorist regime," and not innocent civilians.
"We make a clear differentiation between the local population, who is in need of humanitarian assistance, and we are going to insure that they continue to get that humanitarian aid and assistance," Gissin says.
Israel has rejected demands by the kidnappers to free 15-hundred Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the captive soldier. And the army is poised to launch a ground assault on Gaza, if the soldier is not released.