An election campaign should not be allowed to intrude or impact on Israel’s security, President Shimon Peres implied on Tuesday when speaking to students at the Academic College of Tel Aviv Jaffa.

In responding to questions from the floor, Peres said that politicians seeking headlines and advising the army to do this or not to do that would be better advised to keep their mouths shut and to allow the army to get on with its job.

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post at the beginning of this week, Peres said in relation to Hamas: “If they shoot, we have to respond fully and immediately. There is no room for any consideration.”

Since then, the president has taken an even tougher line and has said in various forums and interviews that Israel must direct all its resources and attention to the South, because that is true social justice.”

Peres said that the suffering endured by residents of the South cannot be characterized as anything other than injustice, and that the rest of the country must now make the situation in the South a national priority.

Peres warned Hamas that if it wants normal life for the people of Gaza, then it must stop firing rockets into Israel. The implication was that once Israel starts to retaliate with a vengeance, nothing will be normal in Gaza. Peres also addressed himself to the Emir of Qatar who is funding Hamas, and said that he too would not be able to sit quietly if rockets were being aimed at his country.

When asked about a military strike on Gaza, Peres replied that it has to be a surgical strike with specifically targeted positions.

Hamas has to decide whether it wants to keep Gaza open or whether it should be sealed off entirely, said Peres.

With regard to Syria, Peres said that Israel had no interest in involving itself in Syria’s civil war. The border had been quiet for some time, and Israel preferred it to remain that way. Israel would only intervene he said, if the quiet along the border is disrupted.

Questions about Iran were inevitable, and Peres said that everyone would like to deter the continuation of Iran’s nuclear program through non-military means. Israel does not regard the Iranian people as enemies, he said, but Iran is being led by an irrational administration.

Peres praised US President Barack Obama for the stand he has taken in his nonmilitary efforts to prevent Iran from producing nuclear weapons, but made the point that all options, including those of a military nature, remain on the table.

“President Obama has so far honored his undertakings regarding Iran, and I am certain that he will continue to do so,” Peres said.

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