Israel doesn’t have any ambition in Gaza. But we cannot permit that Gaza will become a permanent base of threatening and even killing children and innocent people
This morning (28 Dec 2008), President Shimon Peres made a special statement to the media regarding Operation Cast Lead (Israel’s attack on the Hamas terror infrastructure in Gaza) and the ongoing Palestinian rocket fire on civilian areas in southern Israel:
It is the first time in the history of Israel that we, the Israelis, cannot understand the motives or the purposes of the ones who are shooting at us. It is the most unreasonable war, done by the most unreasonable warriors.
The story is simple. Israel has left Gaza completely, out of our own free will, at a high cost. In Gaza there is no single Israeli civilian or soldier. They were evacuated from Gaza, our settlements, which called for a very expensive cost. We had to mobilize 45,000 policemen to take out our settlers from there. We spent $2.5 billion. The passages were open. Money was sent to Gaza. We suggested aid in many ways – economically, medically, and otherwise. We were very careful not to make the lives of the civilian people in Gaza difficult. Still I have not heard until now a single person who could explain to us reasonably: why are they firing rockets against Israel? What are the reasons? What is the purpose?
And I must say also that the phenomenon about Israel is the restraint of the army and the unity of the people. The army waited and waited; the Palestinians asked for a ceasefire, and we agreed. They themselves have violated the ceasefire. Again, we didn’t know why, until it came to a point where we were left without a choice but to bring an end to it. The operation was planned carefully and the army was true to its principles: namely, to be precise in its targets and careful not to hit civilian life. There is a problem because many of the bombs were stored in private houses. We have contacted the owners of the houses, the people that dwell there, and told them leave it. You can’t live with bombs. We have to bring an end to the source of the bombs.
Israel doesn’t have any ambition in Gaza. We left out of our free choice. We have never gone back to the idea of returning to Gaza. It’s over. But we cannot permit that Gaza will become a permanent base of threatening and even killing children and innocent people in Israel for God knows why. I feel that in our hearts, we don’t have any hatred for the Gazan people. Their suffering doesn’t carry any joy in our hearts. On the contrary, we feel that the better they will have it, better neighbors we shall have. Now that Hamas is turning to the Arab world for help, the truth is that the Arab world has to turn to Hamas for the help of Hamas. If Hamas will stop it, there is no need for any help. Everything can come again to normalcy. Passages: open; economic life: free; no Israeli intervention; no Israeli participation in any of the turnarounds in Gaza.
As a nation, we feel united. As a nation, there is wholehearted support for the army, the way they handled it, their restraint, their discrimination, and their responsibility. The great winner can be reason, and reason will lead to peace. We are very serious, in a serious mood. Many of our children are still in the shelters, and we would like them, like the children of Gaza, to breathe fresh air again. This is the story, and whoever asks us to stop shooting – they have to change the address. Let them turn to Hamas and ask them to stop shooting, and there won’t be shooting. Thank you very much.