After killing more than 1200 Palestinians with another more than 5000 wounded and about 20,000 houses and other infrastructure destroyed, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on 17 January 2009 announced a unilateral ceasefire; he also audaciously apologized for the civilian casualties and the suffering the war has caused in the impoverished territory of 1.5 million people, which is facing a humanitarian crisis.
Following is an edited text of Olmert’s speech, delivered Jan. 17 at 3:52 p.m. EST:
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert delivered this Statement at the Press Conference
(Translated from Hebrew to English by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
“Hamas in Gaza was built by Iran as a foundation for power, and is backed through funding, through training and through the provision of advanced weapons. Iran, which strives for regional hegemony, tried to replicate the methods used by Hizbullah in Lebanon in the Gaza Strip as well. Iran and Hamas mistook the restraint Israel exercised as weakness. They were mistaken. They were surprised.
The State of Israel has proven to them that restraint is an expression of strength which was exercised in a determined and sophisticated manner when that which we had avoided became unavoidable.
During the operation, the State of Israel demonstrated great sensitivity in exercising its force in order to avoid, as much as possible, harming the civilian population not involved in terror. In cases where there was any doubt that striking at terrorists would lead to harming an innocent civilian population – we abstained from acting. There are not many countries which would act thusly.
We have no disagreement with the residents of Gaza. We consider the Gaza Strip a part of the future Palestinian state with which we hope to live a life of good neighborliness, and we wish for the day when the vision of two states is realized.
During the operation, we made widespread and concerted efforts to see to the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian population. We allowed for the transfer of equipment, food and medicine to prevent a humanitarian crisis. In addition, I appointed Minister Isaac Herzog, the Minister of Social Welfare and Social Affairs, to head up this effort, and tonight the Cabinet instructed him to invest all his efforts in preparing a comprehensive plan so that in the next few days, we will be able to provide an appropriate and comprehensive answer to the civilian population’s needs in the Gaza Strip. I wish to express my great appreciation to the international organizations which acted and continue to act tirelessly to assist us in providing the Palestinian population with appropriate living conditions. Israel will continue to cooperate with them, especially in the coming days and weeks on behalf of the Gazan population.
Today, before the Government meeting, I spoke with the President of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, who presented Egypt’s initiative to me, along with his request for a ceasefire. I thanked the President for Egypt’s commitment to finding a solution to this crisis and for the important role it plays in the Middle East. I presented the President’s statement to the Cabinet, along with the totality of our achievements in the operation, as well as the completion of the goals. The Cabinet decided to accept my proposal to declare a ceasefire.
Beginning at 2:00 a.m., Israel will cease its actions against the terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip and will remain deployed in the Gaza Strip and its environs.
I also wish to say something to the people of Gaza: even before the military operation began, and during it, I appealed to you. We do not hate you; we did not want and do not want to harm you. We wanted to defend our children, their parents, their families. We feel the pain of every Palestinian child and family member who fell victim to the cruel reality created by Hamas which transformed you into victims.
Your suffering is terrible. Your cries of pain touch each of our hearts. On behalf of the Government of Israel, I wish to convey my regret for the harming of uninvolved civilians, for the pain we caused them, for the suffering they and their families suffered as a result of the intolerable situation created by Hamas.
The understandings we reached with Egypt, the international backing of the United States and the European countries – all these do not ensure that the firing by Hamas will stop. If it completely stops – the IDF will consider withdrawing from Gaza at a time which it deems right. If not, the IDF will continue to act in defense of our residents.”
“We genuinely never wanted to cause any discomfort, to attack any
uninvolved civilian in Gaza. We regret very much the fact that there were so
many who, in spite of the genuine efforts made by the Israeli Army, suffered
from this confrontation. And I want to apologise on behalf of the government
of Israel for everyone who was unjustly affected in Gaza, by this
The Reality Behind This Apology:
At least 1,206 Palestinians, including 410 children, have been killed since the start of Israel’s deadliest-ever assault on the territory on December 27, another 5,300 people have been wounded.
Incidents of 2006
Olmert: I’m sorry for Gaza ‘accidents’
In Petra Conference, prime minister expresses his regret over killing of innocent civilians in Gaza; ‘I regret grave accidents in which innocent Palestinians were killed. This is not Israel’s policy,’ he says
Published: 06.22.06, 15:20 / Israel News
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert took advantage of his meetings in Jordan on Thursday in order to apologize for the untargeted assassinations, which claimed the lives of about 14 innocent Palestinians in recent days, including five children.
“I want to take this opportunity and say that I am sorry for the grave accidents in which innocent Palestinians were killed. This is not Israel’s policy, but malfunctions,” he said.
Olmert made the comments in response to questions by Nobel Prize Laureate Elie Wiesel at the Petra summit.
Lessons for Nasibis (haters of Hazrat Ali and Hazrat Imam Hussain or/and supporters of Yazid and Muawiah) such as Dr. Zakir Naik and Dr. Israr Ahmed:
Based on their selective, revisionist and biased reading and interpretation of history, our Nasibi friends project Yazid as having no hand in the massacre of the family of the Prophet in Karbala. While ignoring the context and the aftermath of the tragedy of Karbala, Nasibis produce distorted historical accounts of how Yazid did not want to kill Imam Hussain and his family, that Yazid very much regretted the tragedy of Karbala, that how well he treated the family of Imam Hussain etc. Nasibis say that the tragedy of Karbala was not a policy of the Yazid government but a malfunction by his governor Ibn Ziyad.
So, what is our Nasibi friends’ response to the Olmert’s apology?
Notwithstanding whatever Nasibis say, here is the perspective of one of the finest scholars of Islam and the sub-continent, i.e. Allama Muhammad Iqbal: