Barak: Gaza is an Iranian military base

At UN meetings, defense minister defends Israel's Gaza policy.

ehud barak 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
ehud barak 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Gaza still presents a serious threat to the safety of Israeli civilians, Defense Minister Ehud Barak reminded the Socialist International Council at the United Nations in New York.
“For Israel, the Gaza Strip today is an Iranian military base three kilometers from the closest Israeli city [Sderot], and 60 kilometers from Tel Aviv. Hamas governs the Gaza Strip forcefully, and cruelly suppresses its political opponents," said Barak.
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He added that Israel welcomes international groups that wish to send aid to Gaza through the Ashdod port, but not provocateurs seeking to break the blockade.
Barak on Monday called on UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to give Israel's internal investigation into the Gaza flotilla raid a chance before calling for an international investigation, according to an Army Radio report.
Ban’s office proposed an international investigation, despite Israel's internal probe headed by the Terkel Committee, at a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council on Tuesday.
During their New York meeting, Barak also commented on the Mariam, an aid ship set to sail to the Gaza Strip from Lebanon in the coming days.
The defense minister said his government would hold Lebanon accountable if more violence results from the ship attempting to break the blockade of Gaza.
Barak told reporters Monday "we view the government of Lebanon as responsible" by granting permission for another ship with activists and aid on board to embark for Cyprus on a new attempt to reach the Palestinian territory.
He said in a brief statement that as a result "there could be friction that could lead to violence, which is totally unnecessary."