Barak: Gaza op won't stop terror attacks

Says invasion won't change Israel's 'partners;' states arms smuggling during truce "not a problem."

Barak me hungry 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Barak me hungry 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Defense Minister Ehud Barak admitted Sunday that even a large-scale Israeli invasion of Gaza would not stop terror attacks on Israel, saying he prefers the current truce instead. Barak has often said that an operation is nearing, but in an interview with Channel 10, he indicated even a large-scale invasion would not stop Hamas rocket attacks. Instead, he said, a seven-week-old truce was effectively halting the barrages. Barak said even if IDF troops go into Gaza, afterward "we would have to achieve a truce, and we would have to deal with the same parties as before." Even if soldiers "stay there two years and destroy the Hamas regime down to the last office and the last operative," he said, in the aftermath "you [Israel] control another people against their will, and the Palestinian people, when they compare the two, will choose Hamas...and not those who talk" peace, a reference to Hamas's rivals in the moderate Fatah, headed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Barak said the Israel-Hamas truce, which began June 19, has reduced rocket fire from Gaza from hundreds to just a few. He said he hoped the truce would last a year. Before the June truce, Palestinian terrorists pelted southern Israel daily, sometimes with dozens of rockets and mortars, disrupting the lives of tens of thousands of people. Many clamored for an IDF invasion to stop the barrages, and Barak frequently announced that such a ground operation was just a matter of time. In previous years Israel has sent ground troops into Gaza to stop rocket attacks, but the relief has been temporary. Despite inflicting heavy casualties and causing severe damage, IDF forces were able to stop the rocket fire only as long as they were in Gaza. Barak said the truce was the "first time in seven years" that the rocket salvos have been silenced. In another shift, Barak said the reported strengthening of Hamas through arms smuggling during the truce was "not a problem for Israel," though four tons of explosives and several dozen anti-tank rockets have been brought in. "Everyone knows that when the truce was declared, there were already hundreds of Grad missiles there," he said, referring to rockets that can reach the southern city of Ashkelon, as well as simpler rockets and mortars. Up to now Israel has been complaining about the arms smuggling, calling it a violation of the truce.