PM lobbies international leaders on Gaza operation

Netanyahu speaks to Merkel, Cameron on right to self-defense.

November 17, 2012 19:10
3 minute read.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at cabinet meeti

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at cabinet meeting 370. (photo credit: Pool/ Emil Salman )


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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke with international leaders including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Petr Nečas on Saturday regarding Operation Pillar of Defense.

Netanyahu later spoke with UK Prime Minister David Cameron on Saturday, telling him "no country would let its population to live under the constant threat of rockets."

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Netanyahu also called US President Barack Obama on Friday to discuss options for "de-escalating" the situation in Israel and Gaza, the White House said.

Obama "reiterated US support for Israel's right to defend itself, and expressed regret over the loss of Israeli and Palestinian civilian lives," according to a statement on the call.

"The prime minister expressed his deep appreciation to the president and the American people for the United States' investment in the Iron Dome rocket and mortar defense system, which has effectively defeated hundreds of incoming rockets from Gaza," the statement said.

Obama also spoke on the phone with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to discuss how the two countries could help bring an end to escalating violence between Israel and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, a White House official said on Saturday.

On Saturday morning, Defense Minister Ehud Barak called his American counterpart Leon Panetta to discuss the ramifications of the Gaza operation. Barak emphasized to Panetta that Israel is determined to reach the goals of the operation.

Israel's right to self defense likewise was reaffirmed Friday by US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, who also called on countries with influence "to maximize the pressure we can bring to bear on Hamas to cease and desist," as the ongoing rocket fire "is not benefiting the cause of the Palestinian people and it’s certainly not benefiting the cause of regional stability."

Meanwhile, the IDF released statistics upon the conclusion of day three of Operation Pillar of Defense. According to the statement, the Israel Air Force hit 238 targets in the Gaza Strip on Friday. A total of 105 rockets struck Israel during the course of the day, the IDF said, while the Iron Dome missile defense system shot down an additional 99 rockets.

Earlier Friday evening Defense Minister Ehud Barak received Cabinet approval for the IDF's request to increase the maximum number of reservists it could enlist to 75,000 ahead of a possible Gaza ground operation.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, however, told Channel 10 that toppling Hamas is not on the agenda as a goal for Operation Pillar of Defense.

"We are definitely considering a ground operation, but toppling Hamas, I think that's something that the next government will have to decide," he said.

Liberman also told Channel 2 that the IDF will only stop its attacks against Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip once Israel accomplishes its goals of stopping rocket fire and increasing deterrence.

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"Each time that Hamas fires [into Israel], there will be a harsher and harsher response," he added.

Debate over an incursion into Gaza comes after three days of constant rocket-fire from the Strip, which has reached as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for the first time, and targeted Israeli strikes against terrorist leaders and weapons depots in Gaza.

On Friday morning, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz issued draft orders to 16,000 out the 30,000 reservists the cabinet approved Thursday. Most of the reservists called up thus far serve in the IDF's Engineering Corps.

The engineering corps would play a vital part in any ground operation into the Gaza Strip, enabling armored vehicles to move across the border into Gaza. The IDF operation to root out terror in the coastal territory has consisted of air raids on terror targets thus far.

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