Barak tells Blair and Kouchner Gaza operation could be 'broadened'

Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday spoke to the Quartet's envoy to the Middle East, Tony Blair, and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and updated the two on operation "Cast Lead" in the Gaza Strip. "Barak emphasized that Israel is acting out of self defense and that it is Israel's right and duty to defend its citizens," the defense minister's office said in a statement. Barak also said that "the operation will be broadened and deepened according to necessity." The defense minister also reassured Kouchner and Blair that "Israel will not refrain from transferring humanitarian aid to the residents of Gaza." He reiterated that "the residents of Gaza are not the target" of the operation.