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Israel: Goal Of The Calm Is Cessation Of Terrorism

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Behind the Headlines: Calm in the South

The goals of the calm are the total cessation of terrorism and firing at Israel by all factions, the end of Palestinian smuggling and military build-up and progress in securing the release of the abducted soldier Gilad Shalit.

For seven years, but especially since the Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and the Hamas takeover in June 2007, Israeli communities alongside the Gaza Strip have been subjected to a relentless barrage of rockets and mortar bombs. Israeli military forces had no choice but to respond in order to protect the civilian communities in the south. Unfortunately, given the terrorists' propensity to use the local Palestinian population as human shields, Palestinian civilians have also lost their lives.

As a result of Hamas's difficulties in dealing with Israeli pressure placed on the terrorist group, as well as with IDF activity, an Egyptian proposal came about that would end terrorism from the Gaza Strip and the resulting Israeli military operations.

It must be emphasized that this proposal was not a result of Israeli negotiations with Hamas. Rather, all contacts on this matter were with the government of Egypt. The Israeli position regarding Hamas as a terror organization has not changed one iota. The Egyptian initiative does not bestow any legitimacy on Hamas, and Israel will continue to press for the justified isolation of Hamas by the international community.

The Egyptian initiative led to a "state of calm," which began on Thursday, 19 June 2008.

The goals of the calm are the total cessation of terrorism and firing at Israel by all factions, the end of Palestinian smuggling and military build-up and progress in securing the release of the abducted soldier Gilad Shalit. If quiet is restored to the southern part of the country, Israel will increase the amount and scope of goods that enter the Gaza Strip, leading to an improved quality of life for the Palestinian civilian population.

Israel will be closely monitoring the situation to insure that the proposal is being implemented in full on the ground. Results on the ground will serve as the test that determines whether this initiative has been successful.

Any terrorist act originating from the Gaza Strip - regardless of which organization is responsible - will be considered as a fundamental breach of the understandings. Israel will hold Hamas responsible for the violations and their consequences. Israel hopes that calm will be achieved, but it will respond to every infraction. Due to the many doubts and uncertainties surrounding the proposed calm, Israel has other options prepared.

Israel is aware the calm is likely to be fragile and short-lived, but believes that it is important that every avenue that could lead to a non-violent solution to the problem of Gaza be exhausted.

Israel could have launched a military action to deal with the Gazan terrorism, but instead chose the de-facto calm. It does so in the hope the calm will end the terror attacks emanating from Gaza, preventing any further violence that will cause bloodshed among Israeli and Palestinian civilians. Israel takes the Egyptian initiative seriously and very much wants it to succeed.

ENDS

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