(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman accused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of trying to drag Israel into a confrontation with Hamas so it can retake control of Gaza.
“Abu Mazen knows that he is not capable of overthrowing the Hamas regime by force; he understands that Hamas will not transfer control over the Gaza Strip and therefore is trying to drag us into confrontation with Hamas in the Gaza Strip,” Liberman said Monday in an interview with Radio 101.5’s Mendy Rizel.
According to Liberman, Hamas is not prepared to reconcile with Fatah and to transfer control of the coastal enclave to Abbas and the Palestinian Authority.
“So we are the ones who will bring down Hamas and hand over power to them
? Of course, this is not the first time [Abbas] has tried this strategy, and therefore here, too, one has to manage wisely and understand the whole picture,” he said.
Hamas and the PA have been at odds since 2007 when the terror group took control of the Strip in a bloody coup. While there have been a number of reconciliation agreements between the two, all have failed.
On Sunday, Liberman accused Abbas of trying to sabotage a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas, telling the Kan national broadcaster that the Palestinian president “wants to damage the ties between us and the Gaza Strip. It is not our fight. They are trying to drag us into their internal Palestinian squabbles.”
The Defense Minister’s comments came shortly after IDF troops exchanged fire with a Palestinian who opened fire at them in the northern Gaza Strip. No soldiers were hurt in the incident which Liberman said “ended as it should have.”
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“It is important to continue like this – to act with strength, determination, but also with wisdom,” he said, adding that if Hamas responds the IDF’s retaliation “will be more severe.”
The incident took place as talks of a possible ceasefire between Israel and Hamas continue despite ongoing weekly violent riots along the border fence and the continued launching of aerial incendiary devices from the blockaded Strip into southern Israel.
In response to the demonstrations on Friday, Israel closed the Erez crossing
except for humanitarian cases.
Israel has since July linked the closing of its two crossings into the Strip with the cessation of Palestinian violence in the enclave.
“I said, those who are looking for a sustainable settlement to be reached from today to tomorrow, it’s just not possible. Do we do all that we can, in a reasonable way, without dragging the State of Israel into another war? I think everyone sees it,” Liberman said. “We do not intend to restrain ourselves, and we want to make a direct connection between the launching of the incendiary balloons and the living conditions in the Gaza Strip.”
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