The situation in Gaza is “under control” and there is little likelihood of a war there this summer, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Tuesday.
His words came just two days after Hamas downplayed the likelihood of a conflict over the reduction of electricity to the coastal strip. “I don’t see [the likelihood] of any war in Gaza,” Liberman said in a Kan radio interview, adding – however – that in the Middle East everything had to be taken “with a grain of salt.”Liberman said that his job as defense minister is to prevent wars, something done through deterrence.“We have created real deterrence,” he said. “Hamas knows what would happen if, God forbid, a war would break out. Therefore, in my opinion, Hamas has no interest in heating things up, and no interest in starting a war.”Moreover, he said, Hamas has no support inside the Gaza Strip. He said that the organization has proven unsuccessful in bringing Gazans to the border fence with Israel for weekly demonstrations.“There is no interest by the public, he said. “The only people coming to the fence on Friday to protest are the same Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists who are brought there by bus.”Liberman said that it is also apparent by following social media that the Gazans are fully aware of who is responsible for their plight, including the recent crisis over the reduction in electricity supplies.He reiterated Jerusalem’s position that the decision to reduce the electricity supply to Gaza is an internal Palestinian matter, since the Palestinian Authority stopped paying for the electricity. Hamas, he said, collects hundreds of millions of shekels each month in taxes locally and contributions from abroad, but has decided that it will not spend that money on electricity, water or health services, but rather to build attack tunnels and rockets.“Does the Israeli taxpayer have to pay for their electricity?” he asked. “What logic is there in that?” Regarding the likelihood of a war, Hamas’s deputy head in the Gaza Strip, Khalil al-Hayya, said on Sunday, “We in Hamas do not initiate wars and we do not expect one; this is our political assessment. We do not expect war because we are not interested and the occupation [Israel] also say they are not interested.”
Hamas: War with Israel unlikely and relations with Egypt improving (credit: REUTERS)