At least two Israeli government ministers are saying that there is no alternative but to retake Gaza.
Government ministers are demanding that Israel retake Gaza in response to Wednesday’s barrage of rocket fire from Gaza – the largest escalation since 2012.
Meanwhile, the Israeli Air Force continued to strike targets in Gaza on Thursday afternoon, while Israel denied reports of a ceasefire circulated by Islamic Jihad.
Already at the beginning of February – several weeks before the situation intensified this week – Intelligence and Strategy Minister Yuval Steinitz had stated:
“If the drip of rockets from Gaza continues, we will have no choice but to go inside in order to eliminate Hamas.”
STEINITZ: ‘SOONER OR LATER…WE MUST RETAKE GAZA’
Thursday morning, Steinitz told Israel’s Channel 10:
“Sooner or later we will have to take control of Gaza, in order to get rid of the Hamas regime…. We do need to remove from Gaza the option of firing rockets on us. If and when the moment comes when we must retake Gaza – and that moment is coming soon – the operation will have to be a very quick one.”
Regarding the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas more than a year ago, Steinitz, among those saying that Israel should retake Gaza, said that it “really should have been done in 2012, in Operation Pillar of Defense, when they fired rockets at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The IDF entered Gaza and managed to halt the firing of rockets for a time, but I was of the opinion that we should have continued.”
While Hamas was pounding populated areasin southern Israel with rockets on Wednesday afternoon, beginning precisely when children were on their way home from school, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Channel 2:
“There is no escaping the full occupation of the Gaza Strip.”
Expanding on the issue, Lieberman discussed Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 on his Facebook page, calling it “one of the most painful and difficult events in the history of the State of Israel.”
“The State of Israel did it, hoping that the move will bring peace, tranquility and economic prosperity on both sides.”
Those who led the plan, he added, guaranteed that “should there be a single shot from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, the IDF will return to Gaza and hit her hard.”
LIBERMAN: THE ‘ONLY SOLUTION’ IS TO RETAKE GAZA
Thousands of missiles are fired into Israel each year and the IDF led two missions to end the “grim reality” for the one-million residents of southern Israel – Operation Cast Lead and Pillar of Defense, he said. Not only has the situation not improved, he continued, but Hamas has developed the ability to fire missiles to Tel Aviv.
“Gaza has become the Kingdom of terrorism that led to dozens of dead and wounded Israelis,” Liberman stated.
“No sovereign state in the world can agree to such a reality. The only solution is the reversal of the [disengagement] process, to retake Gaza.”
ABBAS DID NOT CONDEMN ATTACKS, NETANYAHU TELLS CAMERON
On Thursday morning, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – visiting the Teva pharmaceutical factory in Jerusalem with visiting U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, said:
“So how can anybody not condemn the firing of these missiles deliberately at civilians? Precisely. Well, you’re going see [Palestinian Authority] President Abbas soon, only a few minutes away, and unfortunately he didn’t condemn the rocketing of our civilians. He condemned the fact that Israel interdicted and hit the three terrorists who fired mortars on us. That he did condemn. And that’s wrong. I say we want to move to a genuine peace. To move to a genuine peace, we have to be very clear on our condemnation of terror and our support for the right to defend ourselves against terror. That is a crucial component of peace.”
In a statement to the press, President Shimon Peres said:
“Last night the IDF did what it had to do and targeted tens of sites in the Gaza Strip. The rocket fire was carried out by the Islamic Jihad but it is Hamas who are responsible. The Hamas leadership claims responsibility over Gaza, if that is the case then they are responsible for everything that happens there. Israel will not allow terrorists to fire at our civilians, under any circumstances. Hamas must decide how they want to live – fire will be answered with fire, quiet will be answered with quiet.”
“The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm Israel’s citizens or soldiers and will continue to take determined action against any party that uses terrorism against the state of Israel,” an IDF spokesperson asserted.
“Anybody who tries to fire on Israel or is complicit in firing on Israel has signed his own death warrant and we won’t hesitate to strike him at any time,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon stated.
“We will continue to act responsibly and judiciously to protect the citizens of Israel and allow them to live a normal life.”
Author: Atara Beck, Staff Writer, UWI
Date: Mar. 13, 2014
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