Bibi vows to topple Hamas if elected

Likud leader blasts Kadima during tour of Ashkleon; Livni hints at another Gaza op if rockets continue.

netanyahu checks out kassam damage 248  (photo credit: AP [file])
netanyahu checks out kassam damage 248
(photo credit: AP [file])
Likud leader Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday promised that a government under his leadership would topple the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip. "[Kadima leader] Tzipi Livni and the people of Kadima scoffed at the predictions regarding rocket fire. A government under my leadership will overthrow the Hamas rule in Gaza and bring about a cessation of rocket fire," Netanyahu said during a tour of Ashkelon following the first Grad rocket attack since the conclusion of Operation Cast Lead some two weeks ago. "The policy of blindness followed in the past years has brought us to this situation," Netanyahu continued. "Residents can no longer count on miracles and Kadima policy." Livni herself hinted that Hamas may come up against another IDF operation should rocket fire continue hitting the south of Israel. "My opinion on this matter is clear: Every attack must be met with a response," the foreign minister told Jerusalem Radio Tuesday, rejecting out of hand the possibility of diplomatic contact with Hamas. "Any negotiations with Hamas, whether direct or indirect, are harmful. From a strategic standpoint […] I think that we should make peace with the moderate elements," Livni said. Meanwhile, Defense Minister and Labor leader Ehud Barak said that despite the continued rocket fire, Hamas was still interested in maintaining a state of calm in Gaza. "We hit Hamas very hard, and it is picking up the pieces right now," Barak said during a tour of the North. "It is really interested in quiet, but the rocket fire is a fact, and we cannot ignore facts." Barak also warned that continued rocket fire would be met with a harsh response, "harsher even" than Operation Cast Lead.