Monday, March 10, 2008

MK: Hamas Has Won; Created Deterrence against Israel


"10/03/2008 “Hamas has won and has successfully created deterrence against Israel.” With these words the Israeli MK Yuval Steinitz briefed Monday the situation in the Gaza Strip after the occupation army failed to achieve its goals in its latest aggression against the Palestinians and their resistance in the Strip.

Steinitz told Army Radio on Monday: "This morning I must sadly say: congratulations to Hamas. The real meaning of this cease fire is a Hamas victory. It has only one [possible] interpretation: that we are willing to accept a Palestinian state - at least in Gaza - that is armed contrary to all demilitarization agreements, and reconcile ourselves with the establishment of an Iranian outpost; because Hamas is a proxy of Syria and Iran."

Army Radio reported earlier on Monday that the Israeli occupation army has confirmed that the political echelon has instructed the army to scale-down its operation against terrorists in the Gaza Strip. According to the report, there is currently almost no military activity going on in the Strip, and the army was ordered to seek the approval of the political echelon for action against any potential target.

Officials in the Prime Minister's Office said that the Israeli prime minister had instructed the army to halt air strikes and raids into the Gaza Strip in response to a serious drop in rocket fire from the territory.

Israeli defense officials and the Hamas rulers of Gaza said there was no formal truce in place. But the officials in Ehud Olmert's office said the prime minister had ordered the army to scale back its operations to allow Egypt to proceed in mediation talks.

Olmert told an audience in Jerusalem on Monday that the fighting in Gaza, along with a shooting that killed eight Jewish students at a Jerusalem seminary last week, are aimed at undermining so-called “peace efforts”. Olmert promised to continue negotiations with the Palestinians despite the recent escalation in violence.

Moreover, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak stressed that the military operations in the Gaza Strip were set to continue. During a visit to the Tel Hashomer recruitment base Monday, Barak stated that "whoever thinks that this is the end of the story and that there's already a truce is wrong… we haven't finished anything and the important trials are still ahead."

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas briefly called off the negotiations last week in response to an Israeli occupation military operation in Gaza in which more than 120 Palestinians were killed, mostly children and women.

Since Wednesday, the Israeli army has not carried out air strikes or land operations in the Gaza Strip. Rocket fire fell significantly over the weekend, with only two fired on Sunday whereas more than a dozen had been fired each day a week earlier, the army said.

On Sunday, Hamas denied that it had reached understandings with Israel over a truce or period of calm, but confirmed that Egypt was playing a role in trying to achieve a cease-fire.

Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post that Hamas and Israel had reached "secret understandings" to stop the violence. The officials claimed that the latest agreement was reached under the auspices of the Egyptians and that Hamas had pledged to stop firing rockets at Israel.

Israeli officials emphatically denied that it was negotiating any type of cease fire with Hamas, or through a third party. Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri would only say Monday that no formal cease fire had been reached.

Responding to the reports about the truce, a senior Israeli army official explained to the Israeli daily Ynet that the army currently concentrates on eliminating Qassam launching cells that operate from within the Strip, while refraining from striking other targets in the area."

No comments: