We are familiar with the need to be in touch, to share information to open humanitarian corridors and to do whatever it takes in order to make the distinction between the organization which governs the Gaza Strip and the population.

Briefing to the Diplomatic Corps by Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Livni at the Joint Humanitarian Aid Operations Center, Tel-Aviv
8 January 2009

Opening Remarks

FM Livni: Welcome to the Joint Humanitarian Aid Operations Center.

As you know, we are after twelve days of fighting against terror in the Gaza Strip. Israel decided, after years in which Israel was under attack from the Gaza Strip, to act against this terror. The aim of the Israeli operation is to target terrorists and to convey to Hamas a message that we have changed the equation. Until the operation, the equation was that Hamas targeted Israel – they targeted civilians, they did whatever they waned to threaten Israeli civilians – and Israel decided to change the equation. Namely, Israel will no longer accept a situation in which its citizens are under threat.

This is something that, I hope, has already been achieved during the operation, because Hamas now knows that Israel is not going to accept ongoing terror and we are acting and are going to act accordingly in the future

This is one thing.

The other thing, of course, is to stop the firing of missiles at Israel – this is something that Israeli civilians have suffered for eight years and this needs to be stopped. This is what we are doing in the military operation.

You need to understand that we are acting against Hamas. We are acting against a terrorist organization. We are acting against a terrorist organization that is not willing to accept the international requirements: to accept the right of Israel to exist, to renounce violence and terrorism, and to accept former agreements between Israel and the Palestinians.

Hamas does not represent any legitimate interest of the Palestinians. In a way, it took the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip hostage. And this is the reason why, while acting against Hamas, against terror, we are trying to take all the necessary steps in order to help in terms of humanitarian aid – and this is what we are going to discuss here today.

This is the reason that we decided to have this Joint Humanitarian Aid Operations Center between the IDF, between the Foreign Ministry and between you. We are familiar with the need to be in touch, to share information to open humanitarian corridors and to do whatever it takes in order to make the distinction between the organization which governs the Gaza Strip and the population.

While targeting the Hamas, we try to avoid civil casualties, but unfortunately, during this kind of war sometimes there are those who pay the price because the Hamas – as you are well aware – are hiding among civilians. They target Israel from schools, and other locations, and while fighting back these casualties can happen, even though we try to avoid it.

I would like to make another to make another important distinction. I know that while we are there, there are discussions taking place in the Security Council and I have had phone calls from different foreign ministers, asking that we maintain the humanitarian situation – and this is something of course, that Israel will accept and this is according our values and this is something that we do.

But there is one thing that needs to be understood. This is a fight against terror – this is the same battle, the same war, the same ongoing, long war that the international community is waging in different parts of the world.

There are different coalitions of states that are fighting terror. It takes time, but there is one thing that needs to be understood. At the end of the day, we are not going you make agreements with terror. The battle is against terror. And the way to have peace and quiet in this region is to defeat terror and not have agreements with them.

The only thing that the international community needs to do in order to change the equation is to work together against terror, to have agreements among us in order to defeat terrorism and not to expect Israel to find a way to reach a treaty with the Hamas. This is not going to happen.

Before that, Hamas needs to accept the requirements of the international community. I would like to ask you and your states not to put Israel and Hamas in the same wording. Hamas is a terrorist organization which is looking for civilians to kill, and Israel is a state which has to act in order to defend itself. They should not appear in the same wording.

I know that it takes time to defeat terrorism. There may be one operation, there may be more. We must provide an answer that will change the equation, stop the firing and not allow Hamas to re-arm. The re-armament of the Hamas is something that nobody can afford, and this is why their smuggling of weapons needs to be addressed. It needs to be addressed before it comes to the Gaza Strip. It needs to be addressed, not only by Egypt, but I think that the international community can contribute to this. This is one of the most important things that we need to address – all of us, and not only by military operation. This is a shared interest.

Now, I know that there were some difficulties during the last days in terms of the need to open a "humanitarian corridor". I need you to understand, that, for example, when Israel opened a humanitarian corridor in terms of time, Hamas used it in order to target Israel, at the same when Israel had stopped the fire. This is something that we are doing unilaterally because we need to address your requests and the requests of the humanitarian organizations and we are doing so, but you need to understand that, while we are doing so, on the other side, like always, they are abusing the willingness of Israel to work and to provide an answer the humanitarian needs. So I hope that we have your understanding on the complexity of this effort.