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In letter to diplomats, FM defends Gaza op

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman sends a letter to his counterparts in all countries with which Israel has diplomatic relations, saying the government’s objective for launching Operation Protective Edge is to guarantee Israelis “a life without constant threat” and that, while hoping to avoid an escalation, the government will do whatever it takes to achieve this goal.

“Over the past three weeks, the Hamas terror organization has escalated its attack on Israeli civilians, launching nearly 300 rockets at our cities – including Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and other major metropolitan areas — putting millions of Israeli lives at risk,” Liberman writes. “Families have been forced into shelters, summer camps for children closed, and all normal daily activities have been impacted. This is unacceptable.”

Jerusalem showed “great restraint” before launching the operation, the foreign minister continues, asserting that the government was eager to restore calm without a major military campaign. “However, Israel’s repeated efforts to achieve calm were met with increased rocket fire by what is becoming a Hamas terrorist state.”

Israel was forced to launch “an operation of self-defense,” whose objective is to secure for Israel’s civilian population “a life without constant threat. Although we are not interested in escalation, we will do whatever is necessary to defend our citizens.”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

He describes Hamas as an internationally recognized terrorist organizations that aims to establish an “Islamist state characterized by human rights violations, violent repression of minorities, women, and non-Muslims.” The group using Palestinian civilians as human shields, which is a war crime, and therefore “bears full responsibility for any harm that comes to Israeli and Palestinian civilians alike,” Liberman writes.

“Israel is operating with utmost care to avoid civilian casualties. We are focusing on targeting Hamas and other terrorist organizations, their operatives and infrastructure. Israel is giving repeated warnings to civilians to vacate areas they are about to target, using pinpoint technologies to hit only the targeted infrastructure.”

The foreign minister demands that the Palestinian Authority dismantle the Hamas-backed unity government and calls on world leaders to condemn the ongoing rocket fire from Gaza to Israel. “Finally, the international community should continue to demonstrate understanding for Israel to exercise its legitimate right to self-defense,” he concludes his letter.

Liberman is scheduled to brief foreign ambassadors stationed in Israel about the situation this afternoon.

— Raphael Ahren

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