After initially giving Prime Minister Ehud Olmert broad support for the wide-ranging military effort whose stated aim is to free a captive soldier, Israel's media yesterday began voicing criticisms of the operation. The left-wing Haaretz, Israel's most respected daily, wrote in an editorial that 'the creativity of the military steps appears to reveal more about [the government's] losing its senses than its pursuing a comprehensive approach based on wisdom'. Haaretz wrote that history had proven that putting pressure on the Palestinian population and taking sweeping steps against Hamas leaders did not achieve the sought after results. It called on the government 'to come back to its senses quickly, to let the threatening actions already taken suffice, to free the Hamas leaders and to get into a mode of negotiation. It should be remembered that we are talking about bringing a soldier home, not changing the face of the Middle East.' Writing in the Yediot Ahronot newspaper, Hamas expert Shaul Mishal of Tel Aviv University wrote of 'a lack of connection between the scope of the Israeli army activity against the Palestinians and the hoped-for result'. He said that seized Hamas leaders, who included the mayors of the cities of Jenin and Qalqilya, came from the more moderate part of the Islamic movement. 'Actions against the political and military echelons of Hamas could pave the way for a new species of terrorists for whom weapons and struggle are the essence of life and for whom Palestine is but a way station on the road of al-Qaeda-style world Jihad,' he wrote.