12/22/2008, 00.00
ISRAEL – PALESTINE
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Israel and Hamas trade threats: suicide attacks against destruction

by Joshua Lapide
Tzipi Livni and Netanyahu include the removal of Hamas from power in their election platform. Olmert hesitates. The population’s desire for peace falls on deaf ears.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Hamas has threatened Israel with more suicide attacks if the latter launches an offensive against Gaza. Israeli leaders are instead increasingly convinced that a military attack is necessary to remove Hamas from power in the Gaza Strip

“We won’t stand idle by in front of Israel’s aggression,” Hamas member Ayman Taha said. “It is our right as a people to defend ourselves and fight the occupation by all means, including suicide actions.”

The last suicide attack by Hamas dates pack to January 2005.

Taha’s statement comes in the wake of statements by two candidates to the prime minister’s office in Israel in which both pledge to topple Hamas in Gaza.

Current Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (Kadima) and Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud) said that once elected removing Hamas from power was a “strategic objective” (Livni) as part of a more “active policy of attack” (Netanyahu) in order to “topple the Hamas regime.”

However, outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned his government against making “bold statements.”

“A government doesn't rush to battle, but doesn't avoid it either,” he said.

Until last Friday Israel and Hamas had observed a truce reached six month ago thanks to the good offices of Egypt. Never the less, the ceasefire was often violated by Palestinian militants launching rockets and mortar rounds against Israeli towns, whilst Israel riposted with punitive air raids.

Since Friday Palestinian militants have launched 60 rockets and mortar rounds against Israel, injuring one person. Israeli planes launched raids over the week-end, killing one militant.

United Nations General Secretary Ban Ki-moon UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has warned that a “major escalation of violence would have grave consequences for the protection of civilians in Israel and Gaza, the welfare of the Gazan civilian population, and the sustainability of political efforts.”

Surveys indicate that more than 50 per cent of Israelis want peace with the Palestinians, and that at least 74 per cent of Gazans want to maintain the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

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