Livni: "The job of the IDF is to defend Israel’s citizens; the job of the IDF is to fight terrorism. And when they fire Kassam rockets from inside these [refugee camps], it is the IDF’s job to respond."
Excerpts from an interview with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Israel Radio, 11 April 2006:
"A terrorist organization is a terrorist organization…and we’ll fight any terrorist who tries to harm soldiers, because he is an enemy. But for years I’ve been going around the world and I’ve been asked by the international community that we stop calling terrorists those who are freedom fighters…[The international community’s] understanding of a terrorist who goes and murders children in their beds or in line at a discotheque or at a restaurant is unacceptable. It contradicts [their] values…I can also make the distinction that, to my regret, the international community does not always make between an inclusive remark that says ‘there are victims on both sides, innocent casualties on both sides,’ and I to the same extent insist upon the distinction between an IDF soldier who will always seek out the terrorist to kill him, even if by mistake he harms a boy or girl, and a terrorist who will look that child in the eye and murder him…
"There is a war. Our job when there is a war is to prevent soldiers from being killed — they are the children of all of us, and we worry about them. We send them out there and pray that all of them will return, but when we have to struggle against the legitimacy that the international community gives the terrorists, in my eyes this is a distinction in values, when we can come and say that these terrorists are terrorists… Today when the international community…tries to understand them and begin to explain why they struggle to establish a state of their own, in this situation one of the most problematic things or one of the most important things is to anchor and strengthen [the terrorist’s] lack of legitimacy, and no person in this world can look me in the eyes and tell me that a terrorist who blows himself up in a restaurant or disctheque or mall or a similar event has a justified purpose or one that can be justified…
"When we have an enemy, I’ll say it again…he is the enemy and we fight back, and we’ll hit him without mercy and make sure that our soldiers are protected. But to define the process of war that we are in: it is a different war, and also we live in a country whose soldiers actually go out to defend its citizens; this is part of the values that I think also unite the State of Israel."
Asked to comment on the situation created when IDF artillery responds to Kassam rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and innocent Palestinians are hurt, including small children, FM Livni responded:
"That is exactly the distinction I am making, also with regard to the international community. The job of the IDF is to defend Israel’s citizens; the job of the IDF is to fight terrorism. And when they fire Kassam rockets from inside these [refugee camps], it is the IDF’s job to respond. If the IDF could locate every terrorist, I have no doubt that it would. For a long time that’s what we have been trying to do, but when the terrorists use residential neighborhoods to hide in, the terrible result from the point of view of the Palestinian parent is sometimes to pay with the lives of the innocent. But the job of the IDF soldier as we see it is always to hit the terrorists, to prevent Kassams from being fired, and to my great regret this distinction is very difficult for the Palestinian community to make."