Monday 26 February 2018

Netanyahu warns war will go on until 'quiet' returns

Firefighters try to extinguish fire after a cleaning materials factory was hit by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City.
Firefighters try to extinguish fire after a cleaning materials factory was hit by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City.

Ben Lynfield

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for stamina on the part of Israelis as communities in the south of the country faced more cross-border rocket fire from Palestinian groups in Gaza.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting yesterday he said: "The operation will continue until its goal is met: the restoration of quiet for a long period.

"I said at the outset, and throughout, that it will take time and stamina."

Speaking before reports that both sides had agreed to a three-day truce, and referring to talks on a long-term ceasefire, Mr Netanyahu repeated to ministers that Israel would not negotiate with Hamas under fire.

The Defence Minister, Moshe Yaalon, added: "If Hamas thinks that it will wear us down, it is making a mistake. We will return to the talks only after a truce."

Yesterday marked the third day of relatively low-level conflict between Israel and Hamas, but through which Hamas has tried to press its point that its demands cannot be ignored if it is to agree to a prolonged ceasefire.

More than 20 projectiles were fired at southern Israel from Gaza, two of them causing a fire outside the town of Sderot.

Israelis living near the Gaza border voiced anger yesterday at the government and army after they returned to their homes last week only to be in the line of fire again.

Danny Cohen, a father of four from Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, said he was looking for a safe place to move his family, adding: "The families that returned with children are all the time forced to stay in their homes. We decided it wasn't fair to the children for them to be here until such time when it is safe for them to play outside."

Even when the talks on a long-term ceasefire are renewed, their prospects for success are not great. Hamas is demanding the lifting of crippling Israeli and Egyptian restrictions on movement and access to the Gaza Strip. Israel has said restrictions are necessary to prevent smuggling of weapons or components that could be used for weaponry.

Meanwhile, the hard-line Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, claimed that the continuation of Palestinian rocket fire vindicated his calls for an all-out reconquest of the Gaza Strip and the dislodging of Hamas from power.

In the West Bank, the Israeli military said troops had reportedly shot dead an 11-year-old boy in a clash at Fawwar refugee camp, near Hebron. (Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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