Hamas militants attend the funeral of members of Palestinian security forces loyal to Hamas, in the central Gaza Strip March 22, 2018..
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman appealed to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to overthrow Hamas, as he lifted the ban on the entry of commercial goods, fuel and gas into the coastal enclave Wednesday morning.
“I differentiate between the Hamas leadership and the ordinary residents of the Gaza Strip,” Liberman said in an Arabic-language Facebook post. “Therefore, I decided to reopen the Kerem Shalom Crossing and extend the fishing area back to 9 miles.”
He said the opening is “a clear message to the residents of the Gaza Strip: peace and quiet are worth it, and violence is not. The residents of Gaza have much to gain when the citizens of Israel enjoy peace and security, and much to lose when quiet is disturbed,” Liberman wrote on the Facebook page belonging to Maj.-Gen. Kamil Abu Rokon, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.
Israel lets food, goods back into Gaza as Egypt pushes truce, August 15, 2018 (Reuters)
COGAT is a unit in Israel’s Ministry of Defense which engages in coordinating civilian issues between the government, the IDF, international organizations, diplomats, and the Palestinian Authority.
If Hamas resorts again to violence, Liberman warned on Army Radio, Israel “will close the crossing” just as it has done for close to two months.
In that interview and in a subsequent one on Channel 2, Liberman said that Israel’s best hope for peace with Gaza was for the two million residents of the Strip to overthrow Hamas rule.
“We do not want to return to the Strip,” Liberman said. “We do not want to capture it. We want to get rid of the Hamas government.”
Hamas’ downfall “will only occur when the Gaza residents do it themselves,” he added.
In his Facebook appeal, Liberman said “The residents of Gaza must understand that Israel is not the problem, but rather the solution. The problem is the Hamas leadership, which uses civilians as live ammunition and as human shields.
“We hope for you, the residents of Gaza, that all of the budgets of Hamas and the international community will be channeled towards your welfare and to the development of the Gaza Strip, instead of to terrorism. Gaza has the potential to become the Singapore of the Middle East,” he continued.
The 700 trucks – compared to 182 the day before – that unloaded their wares at Gaza’s main commercial crossing at Kerem Shalom on Wednesday morning marked the first concrete poof that a “silence will be meet with silence” understanding was in place between Israel and Hamas.
Kerem Shalom, Gaza’s main commercial crossing has been mostly closed to all but food and medicine since July, with only some exemptions. Liberman did so to make a direct link between Hamas violence and sustainability for the people of Gaza.
It’s presumed that the Hamas-led Great March of Return that began on March 30 is now over, and that the situation has been restored to what it was prior to that date.
The Great March began with riots along Israel’s border and ended with rocket barrages and the launching of incendiary devices that burned thousands of hectares of Israeli fields and forests. An IDF soldier was also killed by Palestinian sniper fire.
Liberman said that 168 Palestinians had been killed in during the violence that broke out in that period and that upwards of 13,400 wounded. Scores of terror infrastructure that has been destroyed, he added.
The Kerem Shalom crossing was opened after four days of relative quiet, the longest such period since March 30. He credited this with the crossing’s closure and the IDF military strikes against significant Hamas targets.
The United Nations and Egypt continued Wednesday with efforts toward a long-term cease fire. Liberman clarified that the process has not included direct talks with Hamas.
“We have never, and will never talk with Hamas,” Liberman continued, clarifying Israel instead speaks with interlocutors, specifying the UN, Egypt and the US, all of whom have proposals for how to move forward.
But Liberman said that calm could be restored irrespective of the success or failure of those effort.
On Army Radio he compared Israel’s conflict with Gaza to the Cold War between the United States and the former Soviet Union which lasted for 45 years because it was understood that a military campaign was not the way to topple the Communist regime.
The Hamas-Israel understanding that appears to be in effect did not include the return of the remains of soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shual, who were presumed to have been killed in the 2014 Gaza war also known as Operation Protective Edge.
Both sets of parents have insisted that any understanding with Hamas must include the return of their sons’ remains, as well as the release of three Israeli citizens held in Gaza.
Leah and Simcha Goldin, whose son Hadar’s body is being held by Hamas, excoriated the proposed deal, asking rhetorically in a Twitter post what Israel is receiving as part of any deal.
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