The Gaza Strip is controlled by a designated terrorist organization. This is not a vicious cycle; this can be stopped by Hamas today.

 Kassams in Sderot: Remarks to the press by FM Livni

 

Rami Twito, wounded by a Kassam rocket in Sderot, is evacuated to hospital, 9 Feb 2008 (Photo: Reuters)

FM LIVNI: An eight-year old child lost a leg today and the doctors are trying to save the other one, while his brother, severely injured, is in the same hospital with other members of the same family. The world cannot dismiss this by simply saying that there are casualties on both sides. This is not a just comparison.

Civilians such as these, Israeli families, are being targeted, deliberately, on a daily basis from the Gaza Strip by Hamas and other terrorist organizations that control the Gaza Strip. On the one side, we have these terrorists who are seeking out civilians and children to kill. On the other side is Israel, which according to international law, has the right and the duty to defend its citizens, and this is what we are doing.

There is no hope for the Palestinian people with Hamas. Hamas does not care for the lives of the Palestinians. There is no hope for any kind of peace or the vision of a Palestinian state which includes the Gaza Strip without a real change on the ground.

Hamas controls the Gaza Strip. Israel left the Gaza Strip. We dismantled all the settlements. We withdrew our forces in order to create hope for peace. Unfortunately, the Gaza Strip is being controlled by a designated terrorist organization which controls the lives of the Palestinians as well. This is not a vicious cycle; this can be stopped by Hamas today. Israel is acting according to its duty and responsibility to defend its citizens. The deliberate attacks on Israeli civilians must be stopped.

Q: At this point, can you say whether Israel intends to try and kill the political leaders of Hamas, along with the military leaders?

FM LIVNI: Part of our responsibility is to give an answer to the Israeli citizens according to our responsibility to defend them, and we will take all the necessary steps to do so. Excuse me for not sharing with the world in advance what we are going to do.

Q: At today’s cabinet meeting, were any new decisions taken regarding Israel’s action in Gaza and intensification of the military operations, ground operations?

FM LIVNI: This is an ongoing situation and, unfortunately, the people of Sderot and other places in Israel are facing these terrorist attacks on a daily basis. This is not something that happened just today, so it’s not the first cabinet meeting on this issue. But there is a need for the international community to understand that there are certain steps that Israel needs to take in order to stop it. There is no state, no government nor any cabinet in the world that can just sit idly by and watch these things happen and hope for the good. It is part of our responsibility to take certain steps.

The international community must understand that the only way to stop it is for Hamas to understand that Israel will retaliate, and that the international community supports Israel in doing so. The Palestinians cannot embrace Hamas as part of their community but must reject Hamas, because they need to realize there is no hope for Hamas. Hamas is the enemy of Israel, Hamas is the enemy of the Palestinians and Hamas is the enemy of the free world that is seeking peace.

So, Israel’s security is not an obstacle on the road to world peace. It is a necessary step in order to achieve peace. And the only way to continue the negotiations is by addressing this challenge and fighting terrorism.

Q: Does Israel have the ability to solve the Kassam problem, and how?

FM LIVNI: There is no magic solution for this but, as I said before, Hamas can stop the Kassam rockets. There is the need for the support of the international community for Israel’s actions in fighting terror. The understanding of the international community is crucial, along with real pressure and the continuous delegitimization of Hamas as a terrorist organization which controls the Gaza Strip. This is part of a plan; it’s not just one step. It is the responsibility of the State of Israel for its citizens, but it is also the responsibility of the international community to say the right things and to take the right actions towards Hamas. Thank you.