Israel to avoid any Gaza military action, for now

Israel’s Cabinet voted Monday to refrain from any action that could lead to an escalation of tensions in the south of the country near Gaza and Egypt in an effort to calm the situation, Israeli media have reported.

“The prime minister thinks it would be wrong to race into a total war in Gaza right now,” one of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s advisors said. “We are preparing to respond if [rocket] fire [from there] continues, but Israel will not be dragged into places it doesn’t want to be.”

The ministers were briefed by senior defense officials, but were not asked to approve any further military action, daily Haaretz reported. Instead, the meeting focused on ways to contain the situation and prevent an escalation of tensions. Israel must exercise restraint because its Iron Dome rocket interception system still offers only partial defense and because of fears that further action will cause a diplomatic crisis with Egypt to worsen, according to Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Under these circumstances, Netanyahu said, all-out war against Hamas-run Gaza would be inadvisable. By having the Cabinet approve the decision to refrain from further military action, Netanyahu hopes to block criticism from within the government, according to media.

What emerged from statements was that Israel lacks the international legitimacy needed for a large-scale operation in Gaza, according to media.

( / 23.08.2011)

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