Israeli Defense Minister Threatens Palestinians with ‘Holocaust’
Deputy Israeli Defence Minister Matan Vilnai said
today the Palestinians would bring on themselves a “bigger holocaust” by stepping up rocket attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip. Israeli air strikes on the coastal territory, controlled by Hamas, have killed at least 32 Palestinians, including five children, in the past two days [see BBC video here
]. Israel said it was responding to rocket fire by Gaza militants, which killed one Israeli in the southern border town of Sderot on Wednesday, and it threatened to launch a larger-scale offensive unless the barrage stopped.
“The more Qassam [rocket] fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, they [the Palestinians] will bring upon themselves a bigger holocaust because we will use all our might to defend ourselves,” Mr Vilnai told Army Radio. “Holocaust” is a term rarely used in Israel outside discussions of the Nazi genocide during World War Two, and many Israelis would not use the word to describe other contemporary events.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has so far been wary of starting a major ground offensive, which could incur heavy casualties and derail US-backed peace talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. But domestic pressure is growing for such as move. [Further updates]
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