Israeli President: No Ceasefire

By Jennifer Parker

Jan 4, 2009 9:56am

In an exclusive interview on "This Week" Israeli President Shimon Peres rejected international calls for a ceasefire between Hamas and Israeli forces which have launched an assault on Gaza.

"The idea that Hamas will continue to fire and we will declare a ceasefire..it does not make any sense," Peres told me on "This Week."

Heavy fighting continues today after thousands of Israeli ground troops moved into Gaza last night.

Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed and thousands wounded since airstrikes began last week. But that has not stopped Hamas from firing rockets into Israel killing four and injuring other Israelis.

Hamas vowed today to make Gaza a "graveyard" for Israeli forces.

"They did things that are unreasonable," he said of Hamas. "They are shooting endlessly without reason or purpose."

Peres added, "They are now beginning to feel the weight of their mistakes."  But the Israeli president said the government of Israel has no intention of occupying Gaza.

"We don’t intend to occupy Gaza or crush Hamas but crush terror," Peres said, "Hamas needs a real and serious lesson. They are now getting it."

Peres argued that Hamas began an assault on Israelis on orders from Iran. "When they stop shooting we will leave," he said.

"We have by law and by reason to defend our people and nobody else has suggested to do it otherwise."

–George Stephanopoulos

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