The Minister of Defense spoke at the Socialist International Council about the security challenges facing Israel from the Gaza Strip and Hamas

The Defense Minister emphasized that any organization wishing to send aid to Gazan civilians is welcome to do so through the Ashdod port. Archive Photo

On Monday (June 21), Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke at the Socialist International Council at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, and explained that, “For Israel, the Gaza Strip today is an Iranian military base three kilometers from the closest Israeli city, and 60 kilometers from Tel Aviv. Hamas governs the Gaza Strip forcefully, and cruelly suppresses its political opponents.”

Barak also spoke about the Turkish flotilla to the Gaza Strip and the organization of other flotillas attempting to break the maritime closure of the Gaza Strip. “The ships that were organized throughout the last few weeks to ‘break the blockade’, are actually pure provocation, since there is no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip,” he clarified.

The Defense Minister emphasized that any organization wishing to send aid to Gazan civilians is welcome to do so through the Ashdod port: “Every day Israel provides, in addition to electricity and water, approximately 150 trucks loaded with equipment, and not only humanitarian aid products. Therefore, any international group or organization interested in sending additional aid, is welcome to do so through the Ashdod port, which in accordance with an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, is also used for the needs of the Gaza Strip.”

“Israel cannot and will not permit free passage for ships delivering munitions to the Gaza coast. As long as a terrorist organization rules in the Gaza Strip, neither Israel nor Egypt will allow the entrance of those cargos. Israel has the right and the obligation to protect itself and it does so within the framework of International Law and the International Humanitarian Law,” he said.

Barak reminded the audience that seven years ago Israel completely withdrew from the Gaza Strip and turned all Israeli settlements over to the Gazan population. “We did so with the hope that it would bring quiet on our southern border and improve our relations with our neighbors,” he explained.
He also pointed out that, “Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in the process of a bloody revolt in 2007, and since then survives thanks to the military and financial support of Iran. Since then, Hamas has widened its military power in the Gaza Strip, and has succeeded in accumulating thousands of missiles and rockets, 3000 of which have already been fired towards Israel.”

Finally Barak turned to the world population regarding the issue of captured IDF soldier Gilad Shalit: “I would like to take this opportunity to call upon all of you to work towards the release of our captured soldier, Gilad Shalit, who has been held for the past four years already as a prisoner and a hostage by Hamas. For four long years he has not been given basic legal rights such as visits by the Red Cross.”



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