Israel is fully entitled to work against attempts by the upcoming Gaza-bound "provocation flotilla" to smuggle arms into the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in a speech to graduating cadets of the IAF Pilot's Course at the Hatzerim Air Base near Beersheba on Thursday.

"Israel has the full right to operate against efforts to smuggle missiles, rockets and other weapons to Hamas's terror enclave. Hamas is a ruthless enemy, who maliciously harms our cities and children," Netanyahu said at the graduation ceremony.

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"I would like to praise the many leaders throughout the world who worked against the 'provocation flotilla,' led by US and European leaders, UN Secretary-General [Ban Ki-moon], and my friend the Greek prime minister [George Papandreou]."

Netanyahu also addressed kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, saying "Hamas is holding Gilad Schalit in criminal captivity, against all treaties and international standards."

"The international community is united in its request to release Gilad and to allow the Red Cross to visit him. The State of Israel is committed to the release of Gilad and to his return home in peace, and to the return of Ron Arad and other MIAs to Israel," Netanyahu said.

President Shimon Peres also spoke at the ceremony, saying Iran's military capabilities are over-exaggerated and Israel is aware of the risks which it faces.

"Iran has been publicly exaggerating its military capabilities , but Israel is not a gullible country and is aware of the dangers posed against it," Peres said.

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"I suggest the Iranians do not err in Israel's capabilities, some of which are not made public. Iran does not have freedom or stability and I wish the country a future free of hate and tyranny. We will know how to contend with the Iranian threat, without sacrificing our aspiration for peace," Peres added.


Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz and IAF commander Maj.-Gen. Ido Nehushtan also addressed the IAF ceremony.

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