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
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
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
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
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
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,”