Liberman urges Gazans to oust Hamas from power
'Let's turn the refugee camps into Singapore of Middle East'

Liberman urges Gazans to oust Hamas from power

Defense minister tells residents of impoverished Palestinian territory they could have prosperous life without ruling terror group

Defense Minsiter Avigdor Liberman visits the Kerem Shalom Crossing on July 22, 2018. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minsiter Avigdor Liberman visits the Kerem Shalom Crossing on July 22, 2018. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Tuesday urged Palestinians to oust Hamas as leaders of the Gaza Strip, telling residents of the impoverished coastal enclave they could have a life of prosperity without the ruling terror group in power.

“My message to the residents of Gaza is simple. You can choose between poverty and unemployment, or work and livelihood. Between hate and spilled blood, or coexistence and personal security,” he said in a video released by Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians.

“We can be your greatest partners in the effort to turn the refugee camps into the Singapore of the Middle East,” he said in the Hebrew language clip, which had subtitles in Arabic.

In exchange for this prosperity, Liberman said Israel required the complete demilitarization of the Strip, the return of the captive Israelis and bodies of IDF soldiers, and recognizing Israel’s right to exist in peace.

“If your leadership is not ready for this, then change your leadership,” he said, urging Gazans to launch a social media campaign demanding basic necessities such as water and electricity.

Palestinian trucks seen at the Kerem Shalom crossing, the main passage point for goods entering Gaza from Israel, July 9, 2018. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Gaza faces a lack of electricity, drinkable water, and food. Nearly 80 percent of the Strip’s 2 million residents rely on humanitarian aid.

Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade on the Strip which they say is designed to prevent Hamas from importing weapons and other goods that could be used to build fortifications or cross-border tunnels. Gaza’s woes have been exacerbated by an ongoing dispute between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, which has imposed a series of economic sanctions on its political rival in the Strip.

Liberman’s appeal to Gazans on Tuesday came as his office announced the partial re-opening of Gaza’s only goods crossing, which was shuttered over the ongoing attacks from the coastal enclave.

As of midday, gasoline and diesel fuel were being allowed through the Kerem Shalom crossing for the first time in over a week, along with the food and medical supplies that have entered Gaza daily since the crossing was closed.

The cargo crossing was reopened after Liberman’s office said Hamas hostilities had largely, but not fully, subsided in recent days. Hours later, the IDF said it fired on a group of Gazans launching incendiary balloons into Israel. Three people were reported injured.

Last week, Liberman ordered Kerem Shalom closed after Hamas continued to allow incendiary kites and balloons to be launched over the border into Israel even after agreeing to a cease-fire.

Two Palestinians help fly a ‘fire kite’ from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory during mass demonstrations along the security fence on June 8, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

On Monday, an Israeli aircraft shot at a group of Gazans flying incendiary balloons into southern Israel from the northern Strip, east of the city of Jabaliya, according to the military and Palestinian reports. There were no injuries immediately reported.

On Sunday evening, an Israeli aircraft also fired at a group of Palestinians launching incendiary balloons into southern Israel from the northern Gaza Strip, the army said. The Hamas-run Gazan health ministry said two people were injured in the strike. It listed the injuries as light to moderate.

IDF tanks also struck a pair of observation posts on Saturday in response to an attempt to breach the border and an incendiary balloon launch.

In recent days, Liberman and other Israeli officials have signaled that Israel is prepared to go to war in order to stop the day-to-day violence along the Gaza border.

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