Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesman said today that a ceasefire in its conflict with Hamas will only be agreeable “with clear arrangements that we get a long period of quiet for the people of Southern Israel who deserve to live a normal life.”
“I’d like to be able to tell you we’ve reached a situation where Israelis no longer have to worry about rocketing coming in across the border and blowing up their houses. We’re not there yet,” Mark Regev said on CNN.
Hamas officials have been saying a ceasefire is near, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in the region for talks.
“We have no illusions as to Hamas, what their radical agenda is, what they’d like to do if they could,” Regev said. “I mean, we saw earlier today they fired a rocket at this city where we’re sitting now, the city of Jerusalem, a city that is so special to tens of millions of people across the planet. They shot a rocket.”
“This city has Jewish neighborhoods. This city also has Arab neighborhoods. They could have killed Palestinians. The rocket ultimately landed in the West Bank. They don’t care,” he continued. “The rocket could have landed on one of the holy sites of the three great religions. What were they thinking?”
Regev said Israel will be “hitting them hard until we see an end of rockets launched on Israel.”
“I understand that they want a time-out, but if they’re interested in a time-out just to regroup and to come and shoot back at Israelis a week from now after they’ve rested and replenished their missile stocks, we’re not interested in that,” he said.
A member of the PLO’s executive committee said Hamas wants “a cessation to all assassination measures by Israel as well as lifting the siege.”
“Because the siege and the incursions and the policy of assassinations carried out by Israel are the things that provoked this latest round of violence and, unless you deal with them, you’re going to have one round after another with temporary cease-fires,” said Hanan Ashrawi by phone from Vienna on CNN.
“The Israeli spokespeople justify whatever happens to them by saying they’re Hamas. No, Hamas is a political movement, yes, but Israel has been targeting Hamas and has been targeting all the innocent civilians in Gaza, which led to the killing, the murder of 133 Palestinians, the wounding of over 300 — sorry, of over 900. And most of these are civilians,” she said. “So no justification would be accepted.”
Regev called Hamas, which controls Gaza while the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority governs the West Bank, called the terror organization “particularly a prickly customer.”
“These people are terrorists who target innocent civilians and we should have no illusions as to what their agenda is,” he said.