Meeting with the UN chief, Defense Minister Ya’alon expressed Israel’s intentions to rebuild Gaza but warned that it would not come at the expense of security.
Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon, on a five-day visit to the U.S., met on Monday with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in New York to discuss current developments in the Middle East and various aspects of Operation Protective Edge.
Ya’alon expressed concerns regarding Hamas’ rearming and renewed digging of terror tunnels in order to infiltrate into Israel and to murder and kidnap civilians. The defense minister warned Ban that Israel will not provide building supplies intended for rehabilitating the Strip if Hamas will use them for terror tunnels.
“We want the residents of Gaza to live in dignity and prosperity, rebuild their homes and return to normal life. But we are very worried. Just yesterday Hamas representatives said they intend to reconstruct the attack tunnels, instead of rebuilding the homes of Gaza’s residents,” Ya’alon told Ban. “If this is the case, we will not be able to allow the entrance of construction materials into Gaza. We will not allow Hamas to rearm itself.”
Israel enabled the entry of truck loads of building materials into the Gaza Strip last week for the first time since the conclusion of Protective Edge at the end of the summer.
Ya’alon reiterated that “it’s in our interest for the residents of Gaza to improve their economic situation and their lives, but it must be clear that the funds and equipment are not [to be] used for terrorism, therefore we are closely monitoring all of the developments.”
Israel and the Palestinian Authority have reached an agreement, brokered by the UN, which delineates the rehabilitation process of the Gaza Strip and the close monitoring of the building materials so that they are not used for the terror infrastructure – as they had been in the past.
Countering Allegations Against the IDF
Responding to allegations that Israel used excessive force during its campaign to eradicate Hamas’ terror infrastructure in Gaza, Ya’alon said:
“When you are forced to fight for 51 days to defend your citizens, and when Hamas uses civilians as human shields and hides weapons in populated areas, the result is the harsh blow we dealt them. We did not enjoy harming Gaza, but we had to defend our citizens.”
He told Ban that the IDF was investigating specific claims of misconduct against IDF soldiers in particular cases, adding that Palestinian allegations should be checked carefully.
Author: Aryeh Savir
Staff Writer, United with Israel