Just as the United States hunted down al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, so Israel will track down the heads of Hamas’s militant wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Finance Minister Yair Lapid vowed.
In a statement given Saturday afternoon, Lapid said, “To [Muhammad] Deif and his gang, I want to say clearly: just as the United States did not rest until it found [Osama] Bin Laden and eliminated him, we will find you and bring you to justice for what you have done to the children of Israel and of Gaza.”
Deif heads the Qassam Brigades, and is believed to be overseeing Hamas military strategy in the conflict against Israel.
As Egyptian-mediated talks seemed deadlocked in Cairo over a permanent ceasefire between Israel and the Gaza Strip, Lapid said, “We have accepted ceasefires five times — and five times Hamas broke the ceasefire and went back to doing what it does, which is firing rockets and trying to kill our children while tying its own children to the altar and using them as human shields.”
With protests against Israel taking place in major European cities and in the South African capital, Lapid said, “The world must ask itself this, why is it that Hamas won’t renounce terror? In order to get peace and rehabilitation [for Gaza], Hamas only needs to do one thing and that is to renounce terror. Why is it that they don’t?”
Regarding the incessant rocket fire on communities in southern Israel, Lapid said, “Israel has a responsibility to protect its citizens. The Government of Israel will do everything, diplomatically or militarily, to secure peace and calm for the citizens of the south.”
Earlier this weekend, Lapid spoke by phone with US Senate majority leader Sen. Harry Reid, thanking him for the Senate’s support of Israel during Operation Protective Edge, which he said was yet another symbol of the depths of friendship and strategic relations between Israel and the United States.
He also sent letters to key members of the US Senate and House of Representatives, thanking them for securing the passage of legislation to provide additional funds for the Iron Dome missile defense system.
“I’m writing to thank you for your support for which provided a further $225 million in support for the Iron Dome missile defense system, which has proven crucial in our ability to defend ourselves against the indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza,” Lapid wrote in the letter.
“This bill symbolizes once again the depths of friendship and strategic relations between our two countries. The people of Israel deeply appreciate the support of the United States Senate during Operation Protective Edge. These have been difficult days facing an enemy who cared neither for the lives of our civilians or its own, consistently choosing death over life,” he added.
He concluded, “We must now begin to look forward and implement the demilitarization of Gaza as part of a process of economic growth and development which will benefit the people of Gaza and the people of Israel.”