There is no military solution to the conflict, said Fayed Mustafa, Palestinian Ambassador to Russia in an interview with Radio VR’s Red Line program, stressing that Israelis “understand that very well.” Unless political solution is found, Israel will continue to launch new assaults and operations like the one currently underway are bound to repeat. He clarified that political solution involves doing right by the Palestinian people meaning that an independent Palestinian state with a capital in Jerusalem has to be established.
The ambassador expressed hope that the Operation Protective Edge, launched 10 days ago to stop Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, will sooner or later be over. He also stated that Israelis are trying to act as if they were victims in this conflict adding that it is nothing more than propaganda. The reality is that “Palestinians are suffering from the Israeli occupation.” That along with the fact that rivaling factions, Hamas and Fatah, formed a unity government in June, are the real reasons for the current Israeli offensive.
The diplomat also described humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip as terrible. “Gaza is suffering from an Israeli blockade” that has lasted for about eight years. The diplomat compared the area to a large prison. “There is shortage of medicine, food. Today the Israelis cut electricity to most of areas in the Gaza Strip.”
In its turn, Israel stresses that there is no occupation of Gaza. “We re-deployed out of there nine years ago,” said Paul Hirshon, a spokesperson for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, in an interview with Radio VR’s Red Line program. He added that Palestinians could spend these years building “Dubai on the Mediterranean coast but they don’t do it. They chose to invest in hatred and in weapons.” In an interview with Radio VR’s Red Line program, the spokesperson also stated that Israel was unwilling to launch the operation but was compelled to do that. “I think it is clear that Israel did not want to be in this conflict, that Israel tried to reach a ceasefire on three occasions – we have kept at ceasefire proposals and abided by them.”
Mr. Hirshon explained that the current Israeli offensive is aimed at “bringing a sense of calm and quietness to the Israeli public” and making sure that the militant group, Hamas, will “no longer fire missiles onto the Israeli public.” The best way to achieve that goal, in his view, is “to deplete and dismantle the terror infrastructure which they have built up.”
The spokesperson for the Israeli Foreign Ministry is confident that the country abides by the international law and “is behaving very well.” He clarified that the Israelis “only target legitimate military targets and there is a very well thought out process of assessment, including multiple layers of intelligence, legal consultation and advice to the training of the operational-level soldiers.”
Israel Defense Forces stated that they “neutralized” over a dozen terrorists since the ground offensive began. Overall, more than 20 people have died overnight in Gaza while the Operation Protective Edge has left over 260 Palestinians killed, with the overwhelming majority civilians. Meanwhile, one Israeli died in Hamas airstrikes and one Israeli soldier was killed after the ground phase of the operation started. Earlier, on Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the ground offensive could be “significantly expanded.” It is safe to assume that the death toll on either side will rise.
Mr. Hirshon believes that international community supports Israeli operation in Gaza. “From what I am hearing and from what I am seeing I think that there is a significant amount of support and understanding for Israel in the international community.” According to the US State Department statement, cited by Reuters news agency, US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed “strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorist threats” but urged Israel to avoid further civilian deaths and conduct a “precise operation to target tunnel.” On its official Twitter blog, Israeli military stated that tunnels “enable terrorists to infiltrate Israel and carry out attacks.”
In a statement, published on the United Nations website July 17, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he “regrets” Israel’s ground operation in Gaza that was launched “despite [his] repeated urgings.” He also called the killing of four boys on a beach in the Gaza Strip “appaling.” He reiterated that “there can be no military solution to [the Israeli-Palestinian] conflict” and urged “Israel to do far more to stop civilian casualties.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin urged Israel to resolve the armed conflict as soon as possible in a telephone conversation with the Israeli prime minister on June 10, according to the Kremlin’s press service.
The Palestinian Ambassador to Russia believes that the international community has to express “clearer positions” on the conflict and to “condemn Israeli violence and aggressions against the Palestinian people, including women and children.”