Avigdor Liberman at the Kerem Shalom Crossing, July 22, 2018.
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has urged Palestinians to overthrow Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip, even as he allowed in gas and fuel on Tuesday for the first time in a week.
“You can choose between poverty and unemployment or work and livelihood, between hatred and bloodshed or coexistence and personal security,” Liberman told the people of Gaza, in a Hebrew video with English subtitles that was distributed by the Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories. “If your leadership is not ready for that, then replace the leadership.”
Liberman had earlier this month directly linked Hamas violence with the movement of goods and humanitarian supplies into Gaza, and had banned commercial goods from entering and exiting Gaza through its main commercial crossing at Kerem Shalom. Liberman planned to rescind that ban if Hamas halted its violent attacks against Israel.
“The full restoration of the Kerem Shalom crossing is contingent upon the complete cessation of flaming balloons and friction on the fence,” the Defense Ministry said earlier in the day.
While the violence had been sharply reduced, the Defense Ministry said it was extending the commercial ban – except food and medicine – until it was halted altogether.
The Ministry pointed out that Hamas had not completely stopped its terrorist attacks, and was instead maintaining a low level of arson terror, continuing frictions at the border fence with Israel.
The Israeli Air Force struck three terror cells on Tuesday, Monday and Sunday that were responsible for launching flaming balloons and kites at southern Israel.
Later in the day, in his video, Liberman told the people in Gaza that if they halted the violence and got rid of Hamas, Israel could help Gaza flourish economically.
“We can be your best parter in the effort to transform your refugee camps into Singapore,” he said.
Liberman added that the only thing that was needed was recognition of the State of Israel, and the return of the captives held hostage in Gaza.
Later in the day in New York, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladneov said he believed that for that moment, both Israel and Hamas had stepped back from the brink, but that the situation was still fragile.
“I can now report that the situation is calming down, although tensions remain,” Mladenov said. “I returned to Jerusalem from Gaza just an hour ago, and I am hopeful that with collective efforts by all sides we can avoid another confrontation, allow Palestinians in Gaza and Israelis in communities across the border to sleep in peace, and begin addressing all humanitarian issues.”
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon called on the UNSC to designate Hamas as a terror group.
“Too many people in this building have forgotten what Hamas truly is: a murderous terrorist organization that terrorizes Israel and holds Gazans hostage,” said Danon. “And as Hamas is a growing international problem, the time has come for the Security Council to recognize that Hamas is no different from al-Qaeda or ISIS. The Security Council must recognize Hamas as a terrorist organization.”
Cuba said it was Israel who must be condemned.
Palestinian Ambassador to the UN Riyad Mansour said the time had come for the UN to provide international protection for the Palestinians.
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the UNSC “must not lose sight of the very real damage that is being done to Israel from terrorist attacks coming from Gaza. In the last three months, the terrorist-flaming swastika kites that have crossed over from Gaza into Israel have damaged or destroyed 7,500 acres of land. Now Israel is a small country. The equivalent proportion of land in the United States would be the size of the entire state of Connecticut. In France, the equivalent would be 10 times the entire land area of the city of Paris.
“This is no small thing. If it was happening to any of our countries,” she told the gathered delegates, “there would be quite a lot of discussion on it.”
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