Full Text Israel Political Brief October 7, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of Today’s Cabinet Meeting on Attack in Northern Israel, Budget and Sukkot — Transcript

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PM Netanyahu’s Remarks at the Start of Today’s Cabinet Meeting

Source: PMO, 10-7-14 
יום שלישי י”ג תשרי תשע”ה

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today, made the following remarks at the start of the Cabinet meeting:

“I would like to express my appreciation to the IDF soldiers who foiled an attack in the north today. I would also like to send my best wishes for a quick and complete recovery to our wounded. We have proven that we respond strongly to any attempt to attack us be it in the south, the north or any other sector. We have also witnessed the threats that are gathering round us, threats that the entire world is aware of and some of which it is dealing with. These threats require us to invest considerable sums in security and in the communities close to the confrontation line. For this reason, I have asked that the tax benefits for these communities be extended; I have spoken about this with Finance Minister Yair Lapid and I think that the matter has been resolved.

I would like to wish all of you and all of Israel a Happy Sukkot. This is your opportunity to travel around the country on the highways, interchanges, bridges and rail lines that we are building in our country.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief August 27, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu sums up Operation Protective Edge

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PM Netanyahu sums up Operation Protective Edge

Source: MFA, 8-27-14

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There is a realignment of forces in the Middle East based on the common concern with the dangers posed by radical Islamic terrorists. I’d like to see if we can translate this understanding of our common challenges into cooperation and the achievement of peace between Israel and our Palestinian neighbors.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Copyright: GPO/Haim Zach

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening (Wednesday, 27 August 2014), at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, issued the following statement:

Upon the establishment of the ceasefire, I can say that there is a major military achievement here, as well as a major diplomatic achievement for the State of Israel. Hamas was hit hard and it did not receive even a single one of the conditions that it set for a ceasefire, not even one. As Prime Minister of Israel, I hold the supreme responsibility for the security of Israel’s citizens and this is what guided my colleagues – Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz – and I during each stage of Operation Protective Edge. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the cooperation and the joint work for the security of Israel’s citizens.

From the first moment we set a clear goal: The goal was to strike hard at Hamas and the terrorist organizations and in so doing bring prolonged quiet to all Israeli citizens. I can say that Hamas was indeed hit very hard. First of all, we destroyed the network of attack tunnels that it built over the years. I would like to make it clear that we introduced the ground force for this goal. When the mission was completed, when the IDF reported to us that this mission had been completed, we pulled the force back in order to deny Hamas the possibility of killing our soldiers or abducting them, goals that it very much aspired to.

We continued to attack from the air. Approximately 1,000 terrorists were killed, including senior terrorists, very senior terrorists from among its top command. We destroyed thousands of rockets, rocket launchers, rocket production facilities and other weapons, arsenals, command and control positions, hundreds of command positions, hundreds. We also foiled, of course, attempts by Hamas to attack us by land, sea and air. Above all, thanks to Iron Dome, we foiled hundreds of attempts by Hamas to kill very many Israeli civilians. This was achieved, inter alia, thanks to a decision I made as Prime Minister, in my previous term, to equip the State of Israel with thousands of interceptors which, of course, blocked the murderous aerial assault by Hamas and the other terrorist organizations.

The blow that Hamas has now taken is unprecedented since it was founded, a very hard blow. I must say that it also took a diplomatic hit. See, Hamas set conditions at the outset for a ceasefire. We accepted the Egyptian initiative for a ceasefire, already in the first days, unconditionally and without time constraints whereas Hamas set conditions. It demanded a seaport – it did not get one. It demanded an airport, it did not get one. It demanded the release of the Shalit prisoners, those who were released in the Shalit deal whom we returned to prison following the murder of the three youths, it did not get this. It demanded Qatari mediation, it did not get it. It demanded Turkish mediation, it did not get it. It did not receive any condition. It demanded further conditions. It demanded the rehabilitation of the institutions that we dissolved in Judea and Samaria, it did not get this. It demanded salaries and money from us, it didn’t get them. It did not receive any of the conditions that it set.

We agreed at the outset to one thing – to carry out the humanitarian rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip, with supervisory mechanisms and oversight abilities in our hands. This is in order to prevent the entry of weapons or materials that could be used to produce weapons. We have always agreed to this but we did not agree to accept any of Hamas’s conditions and the fact is that this ceasefire was achieved without the conditions that it set.

Moreover, I think that Hamas is also isolated diplomatically. We received international legitimacy from the global community. First of all, we received 50 days for very strong action against the terrorist organizations. This was substantial. I think that we also instilled in the international community the fact that Hamas, ISIS and Al Qaida and other extremist Islamic terrorist organizations are members of the same family. We also instilled the understanding that the long-term goal is the demilitarization of Hamas and the terrorist organizations, the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip.

All of these are important achievements alongside the realignment of regional forces in the Middle East. The regional change of moderate forces in the Middle East is creating a possible diplomatic horizon for the State of Israel. I think that it contains within it new possibilities for our country. We will certainly try to advance these possibilities in a responsible and prudent manner as we have done up until now.

Will we achieve our goal for prolonged calm? I think it is still too early to say but I can say that the harsh blow that Hamas and the terrorist organizations have taken, as well as our ability, via border controls, to prevent their rearming increase the chances that this goal will be achieved.

I can say that Hamas was surprised by two major things. One, in recent days it was surprised by the strength of our response to the violation of the most recent ceasefire. It thought that we would give in in the end to its conditions – and we did not give in. It thought that it could wear us down. You remember that I told it that it would not wear us down but would instead be hit very hard. I would like to take this opportunity to say that if it resumes firing, we will not tolerate sporadic firing at any part of the State of Israel and how we have responded up until now – we will respond with even greater strength. We are prepared for any possibility.

The second thing that surprised Hamas, Israeli citizens, is your splendid unity. I must say that it simply did not correctly appreciate the unity and strength of the people, and it is a splendid unity. It is the unity of civilian volunteers who helped the heroic IDF soldiers by sending packages, going to every point in person, of the rescue and voluntary organizations such as Magen David Adom and the other organizations, of the kibbutz movement that hosted residents of the south, of the local council heads who also volunteered to do this, and of ordinary citizens who went from place to place including hospitals to help our wounded heroic soldiers.

Our marvelous soldiers – during our visit to an air force base today, the Defense Minister, the Chief-of-Staff and I, I told air force personnel – air and ground crews – what I say to all IDF soldiers: The entire nation owes you its deep gratitude. Your stepping up, your heroism and your dedication, all of these were decisive in the campaign and made major contributions to our present diplomatic and military achievements.

One soldier told me, on one of my visits to the south, would that this unity which gives us so much strength as we go to fight the enemy, would that this unity could continue even after the fighting is over. And I say would that it could, amen, because this is a basic part of our national resilience.

And on behalf of all of you, on behalf of this unity, I would like to send my best wishes for a quick and complete recovery to our wounded soldiers. I visited them, not all of them, but as many as I could, and I was impressed by their strength of spirit. I was impressed by the public’s and their families’ great love for them. Everyone of them is dear to me just as every one of our fallen soldiers is dear to me. And their families, I know their loss and the depth of their pain and sorrow, to the families this evening I say the words that we read a few weeks ago in the haftarah  [from the prophet Isaiah (40:1)], ‘Comfort you, comfort you, My people.’ And comfort may be taken in the strong and united nation that stands here on it land, the Land of Israel, and which is determined to defend our state, the State of Israel, with your support, with your splendid unity. We acted just as we promised all through the operation – with level-headedness and responsibility, with foresight broad enough to ensure your security, citizens of Israel.

Following is Prime Minister Netanyahu’s response, in English, to a question from the press:

Question: “If you could just elaborate on the diplomatic horizon for peace that you have mentioned earlier and within that vision, there the potential for the resumption of peace talks?”

Prime Minister Netanyahu: “I think that there is a realignment of forces in the Middle East. Everybody can see that. The realignment is based on the common concern with the dangers posed by radical Islamic terrorists who are sweeping the region with a ring of fire. And many understand that this is a danger to them. As we understand, it’s a danger to us. And many certainly begin to view Israel less than the full, or an enemy than a potential ally in this common battle.

What I’d like to explore is to see if we can translate this understanding of our common challenges into cooperation in common opportunities, and yes including the pursuit and development and achievement of a peace between Israel and our Palestinian neighbors. This obviously cannot happen with the likes of Hamas, who are committed to our destruction. Everybody says you make peace with an enemy. That’s true. But you make peace only with an enemy who decides to go to peace. That’s the most important and fundamental distinction. An enemy who wants to destroy you is not a candidate for peace. An enemy who says I want to put down, I want to end the hostilities, I want to take a new beginning, make a new start, give a new future for our children and our grandchildren, well that’s somebody that we can make peace with. And I hope that we’ll achieve this.”

PM Netanyahu, DM Yaalon and IDF Chief of Staff Gantz at press conference
  PM Netanyahu, DM Yaalon and IDF Chief of Staff Gantz at press conference
  Copyright: GPO/Haim Zach

Excerpt from statement by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon:

“Hamas and the other terrorist organizations were dealt a heavy blow during the last 50 days. More than a thousand terrorists were killed, including senior members of the military wing. Terrorist infrastructures were destroyed. We attacked and destroyed weapons, launchers, rockets, homes of commanders, and command and control centers. We struck at the terrorists capabilities, including terrorist tunnels prepared over the course of years. We set Hamas and other terrorist organizations back many years.

Gaza does not look like it looked on the eve of the operation, and it is no surprise that the discourse in Gaza, and within Hamas, is one of anger and frustration. We are talking about a at least ten years of restoration and rehabilitation. When the dust clears over the Gaza Strip, Hamas leaders will have to answer quite a few tough questions following the hard, unprecedented blow inflicted upon them by Israel.

I would like to emphasize, citizens of Israel – do not be impressed by the bragging of Hamas leaders, voiced just after leaving their underground bunkers, their hiding places within civilian structures – hospitals, schools and clinics – surrounded by civilians – women and children – whom they used as human shields.”

Israel Political Brief August 21, 2014: Netanyahu says Gaza op will continue, suggests return to peace talks

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Netanyahu says Gaza op will continue, suggests return to peace talks

Source: JTA, 8-21-14

In statements defending Israel’s conduct in its ongoing conflict in Gaza, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he “will look forward to restarting peace negotiations” with the Palestinians…READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief August 20, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Statement on Continuing Operation Protective Edge

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Statement by PM Netanyahu

Source: MFA, 8-20-14

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Operation Protective Edge has not ended, because this is a continuing campaign. Our struggle against the terrorist organizations has continued for many years. Our policy toward Hamas is simple: If they fire, they will be hit very hard.id=”ctl00_PlaceHolderMain_ctl06_ctl00_RichImageField1__ControlWrapper_RichImageField” class=”ms-rtestate-field”>

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Copyright: GPO/Haim Zach

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following statement at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv:

“First, I would like to personally turn to the IDF soldiers and commanders, to the bereaved families who lost their dear ones in Operation Protective Edge, to the wounded who are recovering in hospital, to the residents of communities close to the Gaza Strip, to the residents of the Negev, the greater Tel Aviv area, Jerusalem and the coastal plain, and to all citizens of the State of Israel.

I would like to commend you and to thank you for the steadfastness and extraordinary unity that the citizens and soldiers of Israel have shown during the past weeks. I want you to know that the ultimate responsibility for your security and peace is mine, as Prime Minister. I am concerned for the security and peace of all Israelis, both the sons that we have sent to the front and the families that are strong and determined in the home front.

Our goal is that the residents of Kerem Shalom, Sderot and the other communities in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip, Ashkelon and Tel Aviv will be able to sleep quietly and that the children of Ofakim, Netivot, Ashdod and Be’er Sheva won’t have to run to the protected areas at school.

Along with my colleagues, especially Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz, who is currently attending a memorial ceremony for IDF soldiers, we are taking all measures to complete the campaign and achieve the goals that we set for ourselves: The restoration of quiet and security for you all. We are doing this in full cooperation, with sagacity, responsibility and determination, and thus shall we continue until the goal is achieved.

One consideration stands before me – the good of the State of Israel. And this consideration is the only one that guides my decision-making, as well as that of the Defense Minister and the Chief-of-Staff, no other object, no harsh words from either the Right or the Left, and I condemn all harsh words, and no other interests, only the responsibility for the security and peace of all Israelis. Accordingly, I will continue to act with determination, responsibility and sagacity.

Operation Protective Edge has not ended, not even for a moment, because this is a continuing campaign and I am not speaking only about recent weeks. Our struggle against the terrorist organizations is long and has continued for many years – against Hezbollah, Al-Qaida, Islamic Jihad and Hamas in Gaza, which is part of an Islamic terrorist network the newest member of which is a murderous gang, another terrorist organization, ISIS in Iraq and Syria, and it has also attacked Lebanon.

In recent weeks we have hit Hamas very hard on the battlefield. All of the networks that it built in order to attack us have been foiled.

First of all, we prevented – via Iron Dome – attacks by thousands of rockets against our communities. We have killed hundreds of terrorists. We have destroyed thousands of rockets and launchers. We broke up the network of assault tunnels that Hamas built over the years in order to launch simultaneous attacks against our communities and we foiled all of its attempts to attack us from land, sea and air.

This is the harshest blow that Hamas has taken since it was founded. And I remind you that we have already dismantled its capabilities in Judea and Samaria and blocked its attempts to carry out a coup. We did all this before and during the operation. We have hit Hamas very hard. We are determined to continue the campaign by all means for as long as it takes. We will not stop until we have assured full security and a quiet life for the residents of the south and for all Israelis.

Hamas thinks that it can wear us down. It is mistaken. The Israeli people are strong. Instead of attrition, Hamas will be crushed – its infrastructures, terrorists and commanders.

Our policy toward Hamas is simple: If they fire, they will be hit, and not just hit but hit very hard. And if Hamas does not understand this today, it will understand it tomorrow. And if not tomorrow then the day after tomorrow because in the Middle East, one needs not just military power but stamina and patience.

My grandfather came here in 1920, here to Jaffa. Several months after he came here, thugs burst into the Jewish immigration office in Jaffa and murdered Jews, in this area, including the well-known author Yosef Haim Brenner. This was almost 94 years ago.

Since then we have been fighting against terrorism – with considerable success. In this time we built our state, developed our cities, developed our economy and created a magnificent army.

Our spirit has not fallen, not even for a moment. On the contrary, it has grown, as has our unity, and we must continue to maintain our internal unity, as well as the courage and resilience of the nation and the home front.

All of these are vital components of our national strength. All of these are foundation stones as we fulfill the mission we have set for ourselves – restoring quiet and security, and I would like to add, in light of the very dramatic changes taking place in our region, not all of them negative, I also add achieving a new diplomatic horizon for the State of Israel.”

Following are remarks in English by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the press conference:

I hope President Abbas plays a constructive role. He has an opportunity to do so.  I think he has to understand obviously that no one, and least of all Israel can accept the kind of terror attacks that are coming from Hamas. I think that were acting well within our rights, probably more rigorously than any, I would say. No other country has acted more rigorously than Israel in defending itself within legitimate means. And I expect President Abbas to do that.

I will look forward to restarting peace negotiations with a Palestinian government committed to peace with Israel, to the end of terror, to fulfilling the previous obligations that we have. And I think this is part and parcel of the larger picture that I’m talking about. We have to think carefully how we tie in the new circumstances to the advantage of peace and against terror.

Hamas is like ISIS. ISIS is like Hamas. They’re branches of the same tree. And I can say that the entire world has been shocked by the atrocities of Isis. You saw this, the beheading of an American journalist, Foley. It shows you the barbarism, the savagery of these people. Well, we face the same savagery. The people who wantonly rocket our cities and want to conduct mass killings, and when they can they murder children, teenagers; they shoot them in the head, throw people from the sixth floor – their own people; and use their people as human shields.

Hamas is ISIS; ISIS is Hamas. They’re the enemies of peace; they’re the enemies of Israel; they’re the enemies of all civilized countries. I believe they’re the enemies of the Palestinians. And I’m not the only one who believes it.

Israel Political Brief August 10, 2014: Israel, Palestinians agree to new 72-hour cease-fire

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Israel, Palestinians agree to new 72-hour cease-fire

Source: JTA, 8-10-14

Israel and Palestinian factions, including Hamas, agreed to a new 72-hour cease-fire…. READ MORE▸

Full Text Israel Political Brief August 10, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting promising Israel will not to negotiate under fire

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PM Netanyahu’s remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting

10 Aug 2014

Source: MFA, 8-10-14

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Operation Protective Edge will continue until its goal is met – the restoration of quiet for a long period.

Israel Cabinet meeting 

Israel Cabinet meeting

Copyright: GPO

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today (Sunday, 10 August 2014), made the following remarks at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting:”Operation Protective Edge is continuing. At no stage did we declare its conclusion. The operation will continue until its goal is met – the restoration of quiet for a long period. I said at the outset of, and throughout, the operation that it would take time and patience. Israel will not negotiate under fire and Israel will continue to take all action in order to change the current reality and bring quiet to all of its citizens. We will stand together, united and determined, until we complete the work.”

Israel Political Brief August 8, 2014: Hamas renews rocket fire at Israeli cities

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Hamas renews rocket fire at Israeli cities

Source: MFA, 8-8-14

At 8:01, two rockets were fired towards Ashkelon, marking the renewal of rocket fire from Gaza, as Hamas refused to extend the 72-hour ceasefire. After 2.5 hours of rocket fire from Gaza, PM Netanyahu and DM Yaalon ordered the IDF to respond with force….READ MORE

Full Text Israel Political Brief August 6, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu holds press conference in Operation Protective Edge

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PM Netanyahu holds press conference

06 Aug 2014
Source: MFA, 8-6-14

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Hamas must be held accountable for the tragic loss of life. It must be ostracized from the family of nations for its callous abuse of civilians, and Hamas must be prevented from rearming as part of Gaza’s general demilitarization.

PM Netanyahu press conference

 

PM Netanyahu press conference

Copyright: GPO/Haim Zach

Following are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement and answers to questions at his press conference for the foreign press on Wednesday evening, 6 August:

“The rectangle that you see in the center is the UNRWA’s Shahada al-Manar elementary school for boys.

That’s the thing that you see there in reddish color and you see right around that four mortars fires. Five mortars are fired. One mortar fired. One mortar fired. Right around that school. It’s very important to see that and to understand what kind of conditions our forces are facing from Gaza.

Palestinian terrorists fired 11 mortars from the vicinity of an UNRWA school in Zeitoun, Gaza

Here’s a terror tunnel near a school:

Tunnel entrance hidden in Gaza City neighborhood

You see the big building to the right of the arrows? That’s a school. You see civilian houses in a distance of a few meters, a mosque literally touching the school, civilian houses around it. This is where the terror tunnels are dug, and may I say that in many places the terror tunnels were dug from homes. From homes. From inside the homes. So, that is an example again of the use of civilian areas both to fire rockets at our civilians and to dig the terror tunnels for the death squads to reach our people, kidnap and kill them.

I expect, now that the members of the press are leaving Gaza, or some of them are leaving Gaza, and are no longer subjected to Hamas restrictions and intimidations, I expect we’ll see even more documentation of Hamas terrorists hiding behind the civilian population, exploiting civilian targets. I think it’s very important for the truth to come out.

The goal of Operation Protective Edge was and remains to protect Israeli civilians. That means to protect our people from roughly 3,500 rockets, three thousand five hundred rockets that Hamas and the other terrorist groups have fired on our cities, on our towns, on our civilians, on our children in the last month. The goal of this operation was to protect our people from the threat of terror tunnels built to send death squads into Israel, to commit terrorist atrocities against Israel’s civilians, to kidnap and to kill.

Israel deeply regrets every civilian casualty, every single one. We do not target them; we do not seek them. The people of Gaza are not our enemy. Our enemy is Hamas; our enemy are the other terrorist organizations trying to kill our people. And we’ve taken extraordinary circumstances and measures to avoid civilian casualties. The tragedy of Gaza is that it is ruled by Hamas – a tyrannical and fanatical terror group that relishes civilian casualties. They want civilian casualties. They use them as PR fodder. So it’s not that they don’t want them; they want them. And they pretty much say so. Indeed Hamas has adopted a strategy that abuses and sacrifices Gaza’s civilians. They use them as human shields; they endanger them and deliberately increase the death toll. They fire their rockets at Israel from schools, from hospitals, from mosques. You’ve just seen that. From urban neighborhoods, and right next to schools where journalists are staying. You can discover that for yourself.

Of course nearly everyone says that they support Israel’s right to defend itself, and we appreciate those who say this. But there are those who refuse to recognize or to let Israel exercise that right. They would allow Hamas to attack with impunity, because they say they’re firing from schools or from mosques or from hospitals and Israel should not take action against them. That’s obviously a mistake. It’s a moral mistake. It’s an operational mistake. Because that would validate and legitimize Hamas’s use of human shields, and it would hand an enormous victory to terrorists everywhere and a devastating effect to the free societies that are fighting terrorism.

If this were to happen, more and more civilians will die around the world, because this is a testing period now. Can a terrorist organization fire thousands of rockets at cities of a democracy? Can a terrorist organization embed itself in civilian areas? Can it dig terror tunnels from civilian areas? Can it do so with impunity because it counts on the victimized country to respond as it must, as any country would, and then be blamed for it? Can we accept a situation in which the terrorists would be exonerated and the victims accused?

This is the issue that stands not only before the international community today regarding Israel; it stands before the international community with a wave of radical terrorists that are now seizing vast cities, civilian populations and doing exactly the tactic that Hamas is doing. That’s exactly what ISIL is doing, what Hezbollah is doing, what Boko Haram is doing. What Hamas is doing is what is al-Qaeda is doing. And the test now is not merely the test for the international community’s attitude towards Israel – an embattled democracy using legitimate means against these double war crimes of targeting civilians and hiding behind civilians. The test is for the civilized world itself, how it is able to defend itself.

Israel accepted and Hamas rejected the Egyptian ceasefire proposal of July 15th. Now I want you to know that at that time, the conflict had claimed some 185 lives. Only on Monday night did Hamas finally agree to that very same proposal, which went into effect yesterday morning. That means that 90%, a full 90% of the fatalities in this conflict could have been avoided had Hamas not rejected then the ceasefire that it accepts now.

Hamas must be held accountable for the tragic loss of life. It must be ostracized from the family of nations for its callous abuse of civilians, and Hamas must be prevented from rearming as part of Gaza’s general demilitarization. That is the sure way to guarantee that this conflict will not repeat itself. And I’m very glad that Secretary Kerry and others have put forward the need to demilitarize Gaza. This is a long-standing Palestinian obligation yet to be fulfilled. Setting anew this long-term goal is important for Israel, it’s important for the people of Gaza and for all of us who want to see an end to the violence and an end to the suffering.

Every civilian casualty is a tragedy. A tragedy of Hamas’s own working. I think the Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel put it best when he said, “Hamas is engaging in child sacrifice. And this is something for which it must be held accountable. For the sake of all our children, it must not be allowed to get away with this.”

Question: “[Inaudible] I wanted to ask: You mentioned the Israeli [inaudible]. That was before the ground operation, before the tunnels [inaudible] and I wanted to ask, will you therefore, if Hamas had accepted the ceasefire at that stage, the tunnels would not have been dealt with and I wanted to ask therefore, people are asking, was it a strategic goal, was it the goal of this operation, was Israel kind of improvising, was there a strategic plan here or were you [inaudible].

And a second question if I may, we’ve seen since the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdair, since the West Bank operations, since the Gaza operation, they are rioting, attacks [inaudible] violence in Jerusalem, riots in Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and I just wondered if there is concern at the spread of the violence [inaudible].”

PM Netanyahu: “Thank you. We started dealing with the tunnels – first of all, we were going to deal with the threats posed from Gaza either by military means or by diplomatic means – one of the two or both. We began dealing with the first tunnel before the Egyptian initiative. I don’t know if you’re aware of it, but we had information about an impending attack from one terror tunnel and we took action before we had the air attacks on our, before we had the air attacks on Gaza in response to their rocketing attacks. We actually dealt with one tunnel.

If we could have dealt with the rest of the tunnels through the Egyptian proposal, which had an immediate ceasefire as we have now, and both sides could raise the topics and specifically the issue of security would be released. That was mentioned there. When we said security, we meant obviously that we would bring up the question of the tunnels: could we deal with it through non-military means and the other threat against Israel – and that’s preferable. As it turned out, Hamas rejected this and therefore we had to deal with them in military means. So we addressed the other tunnels, in addition to the one we had already addressed with military means by doing the, by actually going in.

That first tunnel was struck from the air. We didn’t know that it achieved the result and it’s very hard to achieve that result from the air. You either achieve it by agreement or you achieve it by actually going in to the other side, finding the points of origin of the tunnel or a point of origin, identify the trajectory of the tunnel and then dismantling it, destroying it through various means. And that’s basically what we did. If we could have done it diplomatically, fine. If not, we did it militarily and the army just told us that they completed this activity and then we went out. We went in to deal with the tunnels; we went out after we finished dealing with the tunnels.

[Regarding the Jerusalem question] Well, obviously we’re concerned. We hope that everyone, everyone will work now to calm the situation. That has been our goal from the very beginning in Jerusalem, everywhere, in the Palestinian areas. We don’t need to see loss of life there anymore than we want to see it on the Gaza front. I want to make sure that – you mentioned the Temple Mount – so I want to make sure that everyone understands that Israel respects and will continue to respect the status quo on the Temple Mount. We know that there are arrangements there, including the traditional role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and we are not about to change it.”

CNN: “Prime Minister, [unclear] for CNN. First of all, the IDF has suffered the largest casualties yet in any Palestinian-Israeli conflict. We understand 61 soldiers killed, three civilians. We’ve seen more than 1,800 people killed in Gaza, 900 or almost 1,000 of which are civilians, estimated. Do you really feel that your actions, Israel’s actions were proportionate? And were you using the appropriate precision weapons even if Hamas is using them as human shields?”

PM Netanyahu: “Why don’t you ask the first question? Let me answer that, then you can ask the second question. Why don’t we do that? So first of all, the answer to both your questions is yes, I think it was justified, I think it was proportional and that doesn’t in any way take away from the deep regret for, we have for the loss of a single civilian. We’ve gone to extraordinary lengths to avoid civilian casualties. Hamas has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that they have civilian casualties, as you’ve just seen.

Now, let’s imagine your country – it could be any country, could be the US, could be Britain, could be Germany, France, India, you name it. Let’s imagine your country attacked by 3,500 rockets. Your territory is infiltrated by death squads. What would you do? What would you demand that your government do to protect you and your family? You’d demand that and you’d be right because security, protecting the people, is the first obligation of any government. But what if the rockets are fired from civilian areas? And the tunnels come from schools, from mosques, from private houses where civilians live? Should you then not take action?

Do the terrorists have immunity because of the fear that some civilians will unfortunately get hurt?

Let me tell you what I think disproportionality is: It’s not acting to defend your people and giving the terrorists a license to kill. I think that’s disproportionate and that’s wrong.

Financial Times: “Thanks very much. Mr. Prime Minister, are you prepared to give Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] and the Palestinian Authority a leading role in the post-war order in Gaza? And if so, can you talk about that, specifics, including policing the borders?”

PM Netanyahu: “We have cooperated and are cooperating with the Palestinian Authority on matters that you raised. There are other matters as well, and the answer is that we are cooperating with them and are prepared to see a role for them.

Q: [Inaudible]

PM Netanyahu: “We’re dealing with that right now. I think it’s important in the reconstruction of Gaza, in assuring the humanitarian aid and also the security questions that arise, that we have these discussions and the cooperation with them. And in fact, the ceasefire was coordinated, among other things, with them. It came from Egypt, but they were aware of it and they were speaking to, for the factions, as you know.

As far as the humanitarian aid, since I mentioned it: You know, we’ve given 2,000, we’ve passed roughly 2,000 trucks of humanitarian aid during the last month or so in which this conflict raged. We even gave humanitarian aid – most of these trucks came during the fire. A lot of them came during the ceasefire, the humanitarian ceasefire that Hamas refused to recognize for its own people. It’s quite amazing. We have to do the ceasefire, the humanitarian ceasefire efforts when Hamas doesn’t do it so we even sometimes, many times actually, unilaterally called ceasefire humanitarian pauses, which they didn’t recognize, but we put in the trucks.

We opened a field hospital right on the Gaza passage, in the Erez Crossing on our side, and we called Palestinians who have a problem with hospitals that were being used by Hamas as terrorist sites, as command centers, as firing posts, and we said, okay, we’ll open a field hospital and we did on our side. And you know what Hamas did? It prevented and warned Palestinians not to go there. Well some of them straggled through somehow and we dealt with them. And we are now dealing with our people to address the fuel, throughout the conflict, fuel, electricity stoppages and so on.

So Israel is going all out on humanitarian effort, and we’re prepared to do more and we think more should be done. We just hope that Hamas will start caring for its people and stop preventing humanitarian aid for them, stop sacrificing them as human shields, stop shooting them when they protest because that’s what happens when people protest and they say to Hamas, “What have you done to us?” Well, they just execute them. Just as they prevent journalists from putting out the full truth and journalists, justifiably are concerned. I can understand that.

And Hamas, Hamas does incredible things, just incredible things. There is a report – it’s not my report, it’s the Journal of Palestinian Studies in 2012. Note the year. It’s a few years ago and they’ve since, they’ve done more things. Hamas officials, according to the Journal of Palestinian Studies, reported that at least 160 children had been killed digging the tunnels. There is something fundamentally wrong here. Hamas is sacrificing its people, sacrificing its children and it should not be allowed to get away with it. These are tragedies. The loss of a single child is a tragedy. The loss of mothers, women, families, is a tragedy. But this tragedy should be put squarely where the responsibility for it belongs. The responsibility for this tragedy belongs with Hamas. It’s a deliberate strategy.”

Washington Post: “Mr. Prime Minister, you mentioned Secretary Kerry’s comments supporting demilitarization of Gaza. I’m wondering if you also support what he said about the need to think bigger now, to use the Cairo talks as an opportunity to think more broadly about a two-state solution and if so, what will Israel do to move in that direction?”

PM Netanyahu: “First of all, I had a very good conversation with John, with Secretary Kerry today. We work very closely with him and with the US Administration, with President Obama, throughout this operation and before. And there are reports of the substance and the tone of our relationship that are distorted. They don’t capture the essence of the common values that bind our societies together and bind our governments together. And I appreciate the support that the United States has shown for Israel’s right to self-defense and the appropriation that I asked for, for an additional 225 million dollars of support for Iron Dome. I think these are all very important things for which the people of Israel are deeply grateful and I want to express that.

I think the Secretary’s statement on demilitarization as a strategic long-term goal is very important. I think he’s right that there are opportunities now, perhaps opportunities that we have not seen before with a realignment of important parties in the Middle East to be able to fashion a new reality, one more conducive to the end of violence, to the establishment of calm, a sustainable peace or at least a sustainable quiet which can lead to other things. That is yet to be seen, but that is a goal I think worthy of exploration and pursuit. That’s my goal.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief August 2, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu on Operation Protective Edge

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Statement by PM Netanyahu

02 Aug 2014

Source: MFA, 8-2-14

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At the start of the operation we promised that we would restore quiet for the citizens of Israel and we will continue to act until this goal is achieved. We are enlisting the international community to support this goal of linking the rehabilitation and development of Gaza to its demilitarization.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Copyright: GPO/Haim Zach
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, tonight (Saturday, 2 August 2014), made the following statement at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv:

Operation Protective Edge is continuing. The IDF is continuing to operate with full strength in order to complete the goals of the operation: The restoration of quiet and the restoration of security for a lengthy period for the citizens of Israel while inflicting significant damage on the terrorist infrastructures.

At the same time, our forces are now completing the work of striking at and neutralizing the terrorist tunnels in the Gaza Strip. Dozens of tunnels have been neutralized so far. We are striking at the strategic network that Hamas has invested such great effort in over the years. These tunnels would have enabled Hamas to kidnap and murder civilians and IDF soldiers by launching simultaneous attacks from the many tunnels that penetrate our territory.

So far the IDF has very significant achievements in the fighting. At the onset of the operation, our forces attacked and destroyed thousands of terrorist targets: Command centers, rocket arsenals and production facilities, launching areas, many hundreds of terrorists, etc.

Our soldiers are showing extraordinary heroism. Their bravery has been shown in the IDF’s very impressive and daring operations. This has been a complex operation, which is being carried out in urban areas, in tunnels, with new kinds of munitions, amidst considerable friction with a civilian population. I am proud of our soldiers and commanders who are working splendidly in this dangerous campaign. They are fighting with dedication, determination and a sense of mission that is without peer.

I share the pain of the bereaved families and I send them both my condolences and those of the nation. They sacrificed what is most dear to them. Their sons fell in order to defend our country and our home. My heart and the heart of the entire nation goes out to all of them. I talk to them and I know their pain.

I would like to express support to the family of 2nd-Lt. Hadar Goldin, who was abducted yesterday. I understand the family; their words have touched my heart and I will speak with them later this evening. The State of Israel will continue to do its utmost to bring home its MIAs.

Citizens of Israel, the resilience that you are showing enables all of us to conduct the campaign sagaciously and responsibly in order to achieve the goals of the operation. I thank you for the unity, especially at this time.

Cooperation between me and the Defense Minister and the Chief-of-Staff is tight and enables us to precisely plan and carry out the campaign. At the start of the operation we promised that we would restore quiet for the citizens of Israel and we will continue to act until this goal is achieved. This will take as much time as may be necessary; forces will be used accordingly.

US and European support of the need to demilitarize the terrorist organizations is an important achievement for the State of Israel. It will strengthen our demand to link the rehabilitation and development of the Gaza Strip with its demilitarization from rockets, tunnels, etc. We regret every civilian who is hit inadvertently.

We are enlisting the international community to support this goal of linking the rehabilitation and development of Gaza to its demilitarization but no less important – this may surprise many, but not us – is the unique link which has been forged with the states of the region. This as well is a very important asset for the State of Israel. With the cessation of the fighting and the conclusion of the campaign, this will open new possibilities for us.

At this time it is clear what is happening here. Hamas wants the residents of Gaza to suffer and be hurt and thinks that the world will blame Israel for their suffering. There are many people in the world who understand exactly what Hamas is, the same organization that, together with Qatar, assured US Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon regarding a ceasefire. It misled both of them.

I welcome the clear and sharp statements by US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Kerry, who placed the direct responsibility for violating the ceasefire on Hamas, and for President Obama’s remarks last night regarding Israel’s right to defend itself against rockets and tunnels. Similar voices have been heard from other important leaders around the world.

But, unfortunately, there are other voices and to them I say: Terrorism has no borders. Today, it threatens the State of Israel. Tomorrow, it will threaten your countries. We are doing what we are doing in the face of this criminal aggression by the terrorist organizations against our citizens and soldiers, but what would you do? Will you stand alongside Israel, a democratic and moral state which is acting to defend its citizens or will you continue to stand opposed and take a forgiving stand in the face of a murderous terrorist organization that attacks our people and is brutal toward its own?

Citizens of Israel, the IDF is acting and will continue to act until our mission is completed. After completing action the tunnels, the IDF will prepare for continued action, according to security needs and only according to security needs, until we achieve the goal of restoring quiet to you, citizens of Israel.”

Full Text Israel Political Brief July 28, 2014: PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s Statement on Operation Protective Edge Ground Operation Clearing Terrorist Tunnels

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Statement by PM Netanyahu

Source: MFA, 7-28-14

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We will not complete the operation without neutralizing the tunnels, the sole purpose of which is the destruction of our civilians and the killing of our children. This is the clear and unequivocal objective of the State of Israel.
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

  Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Copyright: GPO/Haim Zach

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(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, this evening (Monday, 28 July 2014), at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, issued the following statement:

“First, I would like to share in the grief of the families whose dear ones have fallen. They have fallen in defense of the nation and we all mourn their passing. There is no more just war than this one that our heroic sons are fighting. I would like to support the soldiers of the IDF who, even now, are continuing to operate inside the Gaza Strip against our enemies.

We knew that there would be difficult days; this has been a difficult and painful day. Patience and determination are needed in order to continue the struggle against a murderous terrorist organization that aspires to our destruction. We are, at present, continuing to take action to neutralize and strike at the terrorist tunnels. We will not complete the mission, we will not complete the operation, without neutralizing the tunnels, the sole purpose of which is the destruction of our civilians and the killing of our children. This is the clear and unequivocal objective of the State of Israel and the need for it has been apparent again today.

The operation against the tunnels is a first and necessary step in the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip. The process of preventing the arming of the terrorist organization and demilitarizing the Gaza Strip must be part of any solution. The international community needs to demand this explicitly. Instead of the international community allowing funds to enter the Gaza Strip, via Hamas, for concrete and cement to serve in the unlimited construction of tunnels, there must be monitoring and supervision. In the past, when we raised these demands and these concerns of ours, we were not taken seriously. This has to change. It cannot be that citizens of the State of Israel will live under the deadly threats of missiles and infiltration through tunnels – death from above and death from below.

Hamas has violated every ceasefire proposal. We face a cruel enemy whose brutality is directed not only against us, against our civilians, but is also directed against his own civilians. It exploits their civilians in order for there to be more and more victims even as they send fire and death toward us.”

Israel Brief August 22, 2013: Rockets fired from Lebanon do damage in northern Israel

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Rockets fired from Lebanon do damage in northern Israel

Source: JTA, 8-22-13

Four rockets were fired at northern Israel, causing damage to homes and cars….READ MORE

Israel Brief June 5, 2013: 2 mortar shells explode in northern Golan Heights

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2 mortar shells explode in northern Golan Heights

Source: Ynetnews, 6-5-13

2 mortar shells explode in northern Golan Heights. Shells land in open area, IDF still uncertain on which side of border. Rebels, Assad forces clash over last 24 hours in villages near Israel….READ MORE

Israel Brief May 22, 2013: Israeli soldier killed in Golan mine explosion

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Israeli soldier killed in Golan mine explosion

Source: JTA, 5-22-13

An Israeli soldier was killed in a mine explosion in the southern Golan Heights….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief May 21, 2013: IDF to launch nationwide drill as officials ramp up war rhetoric

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IDF to launch nationwide drill as officials ramp up war rhetoric

Source: Ynetnews, 5-21-13

“There is no longer a question whether missiles will be launched at Israel’s major population centers, only when it would happen,” Home Front Defense Minister Gilad Erdan said Tuesday ahead of a nationwide drill….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief May 20, 2013: PM Benjamin Netanyahu: We’ll continue to halt Syrian arms transfers

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Netanyahu: We’ll continue to halt Syrian arms transfers

Source: The Times of Israel, 5-20-13

Amid escalating rhetoric between Jerusalem and Damascus in the wake of reported Israeli airstrikes in Syria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Sunday to continue to act to prevent advanced weaponry from being transferred to Lebanese terror….READ MORE

Israel Brief May 7, 2013: Rockets from Syria land in Golan for second day

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Rockets from Syria land in Golan for second day

Source: JTA, 5-7-13

A mortar shell fired from Syria landed in the Golan Heights in Israel for the second straight day….READ MORE »

Israel Brief May 6, 2013: Rockets fired from Syria strike Golan Heights

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Rockets fired from Syria strike Golan Heights

Source: JTA, 5-6-13

Two rockets fired from Syria hit the Golan Heights in Israel….READ MORE

Israel Brief April 29, 2013: Second Gaza rocket strikes Israel in two days

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Second Gaza rocket strikes Israel in two days

Source: JTA, 4-29-13

A rocket fired from Gaza struck Israel for the second time in two days….READ MORE

Israel Brief April 28, 2013: Israel’s Air Force hits Gaza sites after rocket attack

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Israel’s Air Force hits Gaza sites after rocket attack

Source: JTA, 4-28-13

Israel’s Air Force bombed a terrorist training base in Gaza hours after a rocket from the coastal strip struck near a community in southern Israel….READ MORE

Israel Political Brief April 25, 2013: Israel shoots down unmanned aerial vehicle near Haifa

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ISRAEL POLITICAL BRIEF: ISRAEL NEWS

Israel shoots down unmanned aerial vehicle near Haifa

Source: JTA, 4-25-13

Israel’s Air Force shot down an unmanned aircraft off the coast of Haifa….READ MORE »

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