Sunday, July 27, 2008

Israel fiddled while Gaza burned

'Large amount of weapons and explosives flowing into Gaza'


Hamas has smuggled four tons of explosives, 50 anti-aircraft missiles, dozens of Kalashnikov rifles and materials used to produce rockets into the Gaza Strip since the inception of the cease-fire, Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin said Sunday at the weekly cabinet meeting.

According to Diskin, Hamas has also taken control of all smuggling tunnels along the border with Egypt, and cement being brought into Gaza was intended for construction of bunkers. The Shin Bet head added that the recent prisoner exchange with Hizbullah had encouraged various Palestinian groups to attempt carrying out abductions.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on the truce that "I fear that a reality is being created in the south, which, in five years we'll be asking ourselves - How could we let this happen?"

But Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the "balance" was so far a positive one. "The calm was intended to give [us] a timeout which we would do well to take advantage off," he said.

According to a government official, Barak said Hamas was doing more than expected to prevent truce violations by smaller terrorist groups. He said Israel was correct not to retaliate for sporadic mortar and rocket attacks from Gaza during the truce.

However the official quoted Barak as telling the cabinet on Sunday that Israel's "lack of response so far does not mean there is anything to stop us taking action when we decide we should."

During the same meeting, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni spoke of the shaky Gaza cease-fire, telling the cabinet that "Israel needs to respond to truce violations, fire against fire."

"Israel's response needs to give the message that we won't accept fire, regardless of which organization it comes from," she went on.

Livni added that opening the Rafah crossing would strengthen Hamas and as such must be connected to the issue of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, in conjunction with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' forces.
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