Netanyahu to Gaza Militants: Whoever Attacks Israel Is ‘Risking His Life’

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    Oct. 30, 2011: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu heads the  weekly cabinet meeting convening in Safed, northern Israel.

JERUSALEM –  With  rockets falling on southern Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday  issued a tough warning to Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, saying that  those who attack his country are risking their lives.

Netanyahu delivered the threat in a policy speech to  Israel’s parliament. He spoke shortly after his foreign minister urged Israel to  go even further and topple the Islamic Hamas regime in Gaza.

The Israeli military has been battling rocket-firing  Palestinian militant squads for several days. The fighting has killed at least  10 Palestinian militants and an Israeli civilian. It is the worst  Israeli-Palestinian violence in months.

In his speech, Netanyahu vowed to act with “strength  and determination” against the militants. “Whoever attacks Israel is risking his  life,” he said.

Despite Egyptian efforts to mediate a cease-fire,  Palestinian rockets continued to strike Israel on Monday, including a pair of  projectiles that exploded shortly after Netanyahu’s speech. There were no  reports of injuries or damage.

The Hamas militant group, which has killed hundreds  of Israelis in past violence, has not been directly involved in the latest  rocket fire. Israel says the group, which has ruled Gaza since overrunning the  territory in 2007, is responsible for all attacks emanating from the  territory.

Netanyahu’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman,  told his Yisrael Beitenu Party on Monday that the government cannot tolerate the  continued attacks. “Israel’s goal should be to topple the Hamas regime in Gaza,”  he said.

In Gaza, Hamas officials condemned the Israeli  threats.

“These remarks reflect the brutal attitude and  mentality of the enemy leadership, which does not respect the calm and all the  efforts that have been made in this regard,” said Hamas spokesman Fawzi  Barhoum.

He urged the international community to pressure  Israel not to launch “any crazy adventure” in Gaza.

Despite the tough Israeli threats, removing Hamas  would not be easy. Israeli defense officials say any such operation would take  months and could involve heavy casualties.

Since seizing control of Gaza, Hamas has smuggled in  a formidable arsenal of weapons that include rockets capable of striking deep  inside Israel, as well as anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, according to  Israeli assessments.

( / 31.10.2011)

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