WASHINGTON Israeli President Shimon Peres on Sunday rejected the possibility of a ceasefire as Israeli forces pressed their offensive against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip but said Israel does not intend to occupy Gaza.
"We don't intend neither to occupy Gaza nor to crush Hamas, but to crush terror. And Hamas needs a real and serious lesson. They are now getting it," Peres said in an interview on the ABC News program "This Week."
Peres also brushed aside the chances of a ceasefire to bring the fighting to a halt.
"We shall not accept the idea that Hamas will continue to fire and we shall declare a ceasefire. It does not make any sense," Peres said.
Leading U.S. lawmakers, interviewed on U.S. news talk shows, strongly backed Israel's actions. These included the top Democrat and top Republican in the U.S. Senate.
Peres added, "We were careful. We restrained. We waited. We gave them many chances."
Referring to Hamas, Peres said, "They cannot explain why are they shooting .... and they cannot hide that they are acting by orders from Iran. Iran has two satellites in the Middle East, the Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza."
(Reporting by Will Dunham and Nancy Waitz)