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“A few hours ago, Israeli ground forces entered the Gaza Strip as part of operation Cast Lead against the Hamas terrorists and their affiliates and infrastructure in Gaza.

 

So far, the Israeli Defense Forces have dealt an unprecedented heavy blow to Hamas. In order to complete their mission we now launched the ground operation.

 

I have said all along that our military activities will widen and deepen as much as needed. Our aim is to force Hamas to stop its hostile activities against Israel and Israelis from Gaza, and to bring about a significant change in the situation in Southern part of Israel.

 

We have carefully weighed all our options. We are not war hungry but we shall not, I repeat – we shall not allow a situation where our towns, villages and civilians are constantly targeted by Hamas. It will not be easy or short, but we are determined.

 

We are well aware of the humanitarian aspect and are doing and will continue to do everything possible to provide all humanitarian needs to Gaza.

 

While we are fighting in Gaza, we keep an open eye on the sensitive situation in our northern border. We have no aggressive intentions there. We hope the situation there will remain calm; nevertheless we are ready and alert to face any unwarranted development in that area.

 

We are peace seekers. We have restrained ourselves for a long time but now is the time to do what needs to be done. We are determined to afford our citizens what any citizen anywhere in the world is entitled to – peace, tranquility and freedom from threats”.

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From: Israel Government Press Office

Sent: Saturday, January 03, 2009 10:08 PM
To: ‘Israel Government Press Office’

Subject: SECURITY CABINET DECISION & 2 IDF SPOX PRESS RELEASES

 

SECURITY CABINET DECISION ON THE CONTINUATION OF IDF OPERATIONS IN THE GAZA STRIP

(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

The Ministerial Committee on National Security Affairs (the Security Cabinet) met yesterday (Friday), 3.1.09, in order to discuss the continuation of IDF operations in the Gaza Strip.

In continuation of the Ministerial Committee’s 24.12.08 decision, in the framework of which approval was given to the operational methods that were recommended by the IDF and security establishment vis-ý-vis action against Hamas and the other terrorist organizations in the Gaza, the Committee decided to instruct the IDF to continue operations and proceed to the stage that includes a ground entry into the Gaza Strip.

The goal of the operation is to continue advancing the goals that the Government has set for the operation as a whole, including striking hard at Hamas’s terrorism infrastructure and changing the security reality for residents of the south.  IDF forces plan – inter alia – to take control of the launch areas from which most of the missiles that have hit Sderot, Ashkelon and Ashdod in recent weeks and months have been fired from.

The Committee decided that the timing of the plan’s implementation would be determined by the security establishment in accordance with its operational judgment; this was determined for this evening (Saturday), 3.1.09.

The Ministerial Committee further instructed the IDF to prepare for additional stages of the operation and to maintain alert in other areas, and, to these ends, to mobilize the necessary reserve forces – tens of thousands of soldiers.

Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Tzahi Hanegbi and Opposition Chairman MK Benjamin Netanyahu have been informed of the foregoing.

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IDF ENFORCES NAVAL BLOCKADE ON GAZA

(Communicated by the IDF Spokesperson)

In accordance with the decision of the Defense Minister and current security assessments, as of Saturday January 3rd, 2009, the IDF has begun enforcing a naval blockade for 20 nautical miles from the Gaza Strip.

The length of Gaza’s shore is used by the Hamas terror organization, and the presence of its operatives on the shoreline and in the open sea constitutes a threat against the citizens of southern Israel.

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OPERATION CAST LEAD – RESERVE TROOPS DRAFTED

As part of Operation Cast Lead the IDF has begun to draft numerous reserve units, in order to allow the expansion of the operation.

The majority of the reservists called up belong to combat units, some form part of the Home Front Command and the remainder belong to various other military units.

The reserve units are being drafted in accordance with the law and will be reporting for duty after having undergone extensive training over the past two years. At a number of the recruitment centers the IDF is already implementing a project that is designed to replenish and renew emergency stores and military equipment. A special emphasis is also being placed on logistic support for the reserve units.

PRESIDENT OF ISRAEL SPOKESPERSON’S OFFICE

Sunday, December 28, 2008

President Shimon Peres Has Made A Special Statement on “Operation Cast Lead” and the Ongoing Palestinian Rocket Attacks

 This morning, President Shimon Peres made a special statement to the media regarding Operation Cast Lead (Israel’s attack on the Hamas terror infrastructure in Gaza) and the ongoing Palestinian rocket fire on civilian areas in southern Israel. A transcript of the statement, which is also available on video from the Associated Press and Reuters, is below.

 It is the first time in the history of Israel that we, the Israelis, cannot understand the motives or the purposes of the ones who are shooting at us. It is the most unreasonable war, done by the most unreasonable warriors.

The story is simple. Israel has left Gaza completely, out of our own free will, at a high cost. In Gaza there is no single Israeli civilian or soldier. They were evacuated from Gaza, our settlements, which called for a very expensive cost. We had to mobilize 45,000 policemen to take out our settlers from there. We spent $2.5 billion. The passages were open. Money was sent to Gaza. We suggested aid in many ways – economically, medically, and otherwise. We were very careful not to make the lives of the civilian people in Gaza difficult. Still I have not heard until now a single person who could explain to us reasonably: why are they firing rockets against Israel? What are the reasons? What is the purpose?

 And I must say also that the phenomenon about Israel is the restraint of the army and the unity of the people. The army waited and waited; the Palestinians asked for a ceasefire, and we agreed. They themselves have violated the ceasefire. Again, we didn’t know why, until it came to a point where we were left without a choice but to bring an end to it. The operation was planned carefully and the army was true to its principles: namely, to be precise in its targets and careful not to hit civilian life. There is a problem because many of the bombs were stored in private houses. We have contacted the owners of the houses, the people that dwell there, and told them leave it You can’t live with bombs. We have to bring an end to the source of the bombs.

 Israel doesn’t have any ambition in Gaza. We left out of our free choice. We have never gone back to the idea of returning to Gaza. It’s over. But we cannot permit that Gaza will become a permanent base of threatening and even killing children and innocent people in Israel for God knows why. I feel that in our hearts, we don’t have any hatred for the Gazan people. Their suffering doesn’t carry any joy in our hearts. On the contrary, we feel that the better they will have it, better neighbors we shall have. Now that Hamas is turning to the Arab world for help, the truth is that the Arab world has to turn to Hamas for the help of Hamas. If Hamas will stop it, there is no need for any help. Everything can come again to normalcy. Passages: open; economic life: free; no Israeli intervention; no Israeli participation in any of the turnarounds in Gaza.

 As a nation, we feel united. As a nation, there is wholehearted support for the army, the way they handled it, their restraint, their discrimination, and their responsibility. The great winner can be reason, and reason will lead to peace. We are very serious, in a serious mood. Many of our children are still in the shelters, and we would like them, like the children of Gaza, to breathe fresh air again. This is the story, and whoever asks us to stop shooting – they have to change the address. Let them turn to Hamas and ask them to stop shooting, and there won’t be shooting.

Thank you very much.

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