Tuesday, January 27, 2009
In an interview on Israeli television, the country's foreign minister Tzipi Livni said that another offensive against Hamas, inside the Gaza Strip, was possible if the smuggling of weapons through tunnels under the strip is not halted. This comes just one day after Press TV reported that Israeli F-16 fighter jets once again began to fly over the Strip.
"We embarked on the operation in order to bring quiet [to Southern Israel] - now there is quiet, and to stop the firing of rockets - now the firing has stopped. As far as I am concerned, we could hit Hamas with another military blow. The smuggling of weapons into Gaza is the same as firing onto Israel, and the world sees that as well," said Livni in the Channel 1 interview as quoted by Trend News Agency and Press TV. Since 2000, nearly 10,000 rockets have been fired into Northern Israel from the Strip by Hamas militants.
Livni added that she believed that a ground operation inside the Strip should have continued after Israel finished its air assault on rocket launchers and Hamas strongholds. "I also thought that after the air operation it was necessary to continue with the ground operation."
Osama Hamdan, a Hamas spokesman in Lebanon, spoke out against Livni's statements saying, "no one has the right to prevent the Palestinians from equipping themselves with weapons as long as the occupation continues." He also added that bringing weapons into the Strip "is not smuggling" and that the rest of the "Arab and Muslim countries [should] formally allow weapons into the Strip."
Israel launched an offensive into the Strip on December 27, 2008, allegedly to stop rockets from being fired Israel, and to destroy tunnels under the Strip that Israel says are used to smuggle weapons into Gaza. It lasted 23 days and, by Palestinian estimates, killed nearly 1,400 people and injured over 5,000 more. Israel says that as a result of the offensive, its military, the (IDF), lost 10 soldiers. Israel also lost 3 civilians, and suffered a total of 518 wounded.
== Sources ==
"Israel threatens to strike Gaza again" — Press TV, January 26, 2009
"Israel should strike Hamas again to halt arms smuggling- foreign minister" — Trend News Agency, January 26, 2009
"Israeli fighter jets roam over Gaza" — Press TV, January 25, 2009ReferencesOCHA oPt (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - occupied Palestinian territory). "Field update on Gaza from the Humanitarian Coordinator" — OCHA, 21 January 2009