Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks during a news conference in Jerusalem..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who earlier this week broke with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu partly because of unhappiness that Netanyahu was not responding more forcefully to rocket fire from Gaza, cited that restraint positively in a letter sent Thursday to his colleagues from around the world.
The letter, part of Israel's diplomatic campaign to garner understanding and support for Operation Protective Edge, said that since the kidnapping of the three Israeli teens in mid-June, Hamas fired nearly 300 rockets at Israeli cities, “putting millions of Israeli lives at risk. Families have been forced into shelters, summer camps for children closed, and all normal daily activities have been impacted. This is unacceptable.”
Israel, said Liberman, who has advocated taking over Gaza, has “shown great restraint prior to this operation. Our intention was to restore the calm without a major military operation. However, Israel's repeated efforts to achieve calm were met with increased rocket fire by what is becoming a Hamas terrorist state.'
Therefore, he wrote, “Israel launched an operation of self-defense, "Protective Edge," on July 7th, to counter these attacks, to defend our citizens, and secure for them a life without constant threat. Although we are not interested in escalation, we will do whatever is necessary to defend our citizens.”
As part of the effort to explain Israel's actions, Netanyahu spoke on Wednesday with UN Secretary of State Ban Ki-moon, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, Canadian Prime Minster Stephen Harper, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Liberman, who will meet hold a briefing Thursday afternoon with foreign ambassadors stationed in Israel, wrote in his letter that Hamas is a recognized terror organization “motivated by the most radical ideology, including a charter that calls for the murder of all Jews. Hamas is responsible for 80 suicide bombers that have killed nearly 1000 Israeli civilians.”
This group, he wrote, “seeks to establish an Islamist state characterized by human rights violations, violent repression of minorities, women, and non-Muslims.”
Liberman said that Hamas has been commuting war crimes for decades by “deploying weapons and command centers in densely populated areas and operating from residential areas, thus turning Palestinian civilians into human shields, while deliberately targeting Israeli civilians.”
Hamas, he said, “bears full responsibility for any harm that comes to Israeli and Palestinian civilians alike.” He added that Israel was striving to avoid causing civilian casualties, “giving repeated warnings to civilians to vacate areas they are about to target, using pinpoint technologies to hit only the targeted infrastructure.”
He called on the Palestinian government to immediately dissolve its partnership with Hamas, and on the international community to “demonstrate understanding for Israel to exercise its legitimate right to self-defense.”