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Netanyahu: We hope fighting won’t continue for long

CM 16/05/2021

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Israel needs more time to win in Operation Guardians of the Walls, but hopes it won’t take long, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.
Netanyahu made the remarks soon after a Security Cabinet meeting, in which ministers decided to continue the operation in accordance with the IDF’s plans. No ceasefire plan was discussed, and Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz will bring one to the cabinet if it becomes relevant.
“The campaign against the terrorist organizations continues in full force,” Netanyahu said in a press statement soon after the cabinet meeting. “The IDF attacked more than 1,500 targets in recent days…The tunnels that were Hamas’s strategic asset turned into a death trap for terrorists.”
“By way of deception, war,” Netanyahu said, quoting the Mossad motto, which comes from the Book of Proverbs, “and through courage, we will win. It will take some time.”
Netanyahu said that Israel is facing some international pressure, but said that the US and President Joe Biden were foremost among many supporting Israel at this time.
Immediately after, asked in an interview with US TV show Face the Nation how long the fighting will continue, Netanyahu said: “We hope it doesn’t continue very long.
“We were attacked by Hamas on our national day, Jerusalem day, with unprovoked attacks on Jerusalem, thousands of rockets and missiles on our city. I think we have to defend ourselves; we have a natural right to self-defense. We are trying to degrade Hamas terrorist abilities, and degrade its ability to do this again,” he said.

Netanyahu emphasized that Israel makes herculean efforts to avoid harming non-combatants.
Israel strikes high-rise buildings used by Hamas for terrorism without killing anyone, he pointed out.
“How does that happen? We, unlike Hamas, take special precautions to tell people to leave the premises and make sure everyone is gone before we take down the building…We call the building to make sure the premises are vacated,” he explained. “They deliberately target our cities and glorify the death of children and old people.”
When there are civilian casualties, Israel “grieves” and “regrets” them, Netanyahu said.
“Many studies by serious military analysts compared Israel’s actions with other Western armies fighting radical Islamists…There has to be a measure of fairness, reasonableness in projecting this kind of criticism against Israel. Our army is second to none in seeking to minimize civilian casualties,” he stated.
Hamas, however, intentionally targets noncombatants in Israel and is fine with civilian casualties in Gaza, because it brings international criticism of Israel.
“When the international community attacks Israel, they are encouraging Hamas to continue these attacks,” he said.
Earlier Sunday, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israel and Palestinian Affairs Hady Amr met with Gantz, as part of a series of meetings in the region to encourage de-escalation.
Gantz told Amr that “Israel, which shares democratic values with the U.S., takes every precaution to strike at military targets only and avoid harming civilians, while its civilians are the targets of indiscriminate attack.
“The objective of the current military campaign is to restore long-term quiet to Israel’s borders and safety to its citizens,” Gantz added.
The defense minister’s spokeswoman said he asked the American delegation to thank US President Joe Biden for his support for “Israel’s right and duty to defend itself.”
The meeting took place right before a meeting of Israel’s Security Cabinet to weigh the next steps in Operation Guardians of the Walls.
Amr is also expected to meet with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, but the meeting has not been scheduled yet and may take place after the cabinet meeting. He is also likely to met with Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz.
Amr also met with senior figures in Israeli Arab society, who asked him to work towards an immediate ceasefire, Channel 12 reported.
He reportedly responded that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not interested in a peacefire, which is commensurate with Netanyahu and other Israeli officials’ public statements that Israel wants to continue to forcefully strike Hamas targets.
Amr is the only Biden Administration appointee focused on Israeli-Palestinian issues. The administration has yet to announce an ambassador to an Israel, nor an envoy for peace talks, which many presidents appoint.
Amr is a policy analyst and economist who worked in the Clinton and Obama administrations, as well as the World Bank and World Economic Forum. He was the founding director of the Brookings Institution’s Doha Center in Qatar, founded in 2008.
In the Obama years, Amr worked on projects like allowing 3G Internet networks in Gaza, and getting humanitarian aid into Gaza during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
Earlier this year, Amr was quoted in Axios as saying that he is seeking an incremental approach to improve the situation in the region, because the Biden administration doesn’t view an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement as possible in the near future. Israeli officials who have worked with Amr described him as pragmatic and focused on humanitarian issues.
But Amr has also faced criticism from pro-Israel voices, based on his writing from the early 2000s. He warned that Arabs “will never forget what the Israeli people…have done to Palestinian children. And there will be thousands who will seek to avenge these brutal murders of innocents.” He accused Israel of having a “crude objective of disgrace and revenge that has little to do with security.”
Another criticism has been of his leading the Doha Center, backed by Qatar, which is also a leading funder of Hamas.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell announced that he would convene a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers on Tuesday, “in view of the ongoing escalation between Israel and Palestine and the unacceptable number of civilian casualties.”
“We will coordinate and discuss how the EU can best contribute to end the current violence,” Borrell tweeted.
On Friday, after a phone call with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, Borrell said that he “reaffirmed he EU’s support to Israel’s security & condemned Hamas indiscriminate firing of rockets.”
“Important that any response avoids civilian casualties,” he wrote on twitter. “I am reaching out to regional actors to contribute towards de-escalation.”

Source: Jerusalem Post

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