JERUSALEM – Ehud Olmert, the embattled Israeli prime minister, has sought to detract from his problems at home by starting a series of spectacular diplomatic initiatives. But with the ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip violated after less than five days, Olmert could now see his hold on power crumble swiftly.
Olmert had hoped that his new opening to Syria, Lebanon and Hamas would stave off domestic threats to his leadership, as opposition parties tried to force him out of office. Yet 24 hours before the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, was set to vote on a critical bill to dissolve itself, Olmert’s six-month ceasefire deal with Hamas appeared in serious peril.
At least two rockets were fired into the Israeli border town of Sderot, injuring two people. “This is a blatant violation of the calm, and we will weigh options,” an aide quoted Mr Olmert as saying after the rockets struck.
The Egyptian-brokered truce, which took effect last Thursday, calls on Hamas to prevent cross-border fire from the Gaza Strip, which it seized by force a year ago.
Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the attack, calling it a "first response" to Israel’s killing overnight of a local commander of the militant group and another Palestinian, who was affiliated with Hamas, in the West Bank city of Nablus.
The truce deal, under which Israel agreed to halt its operations in the Gaza Strip and to ease its economic blockade of the impoverished enclave, does not apply to the West Bank.