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Liberman says people of Gaza should kick out Hamas

Officers from Hamas national security force hold their rifles while marching during a parade against Israeli arrangements in the contested Jerusalem shrine, in front of the Palestinian Legislative Council in Gaza City, Wednesday, July 26, 2017.
AP Photo/Adel Hana

Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman slammed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday, saying he plays a “double game” and that he is deteriorating the situation in Gaza.

“To this day Abu Mazen (Abbas) barely paid half the salary of April and May to the residents of Gaza, while he continues to cut funds to the welfare and health system. Meanwhile he runs to the International Criminal Court, the UN Security Council, and the UN General Assembly, and accuses Israel of atrocities. We must understand that the main spoiler here is Abu Mazen,” Liberman said.

In June last year the Palestinian Authority cut payments to Israel to supply power to Gaza which reduced the amount being delivered to the Palestinian territory by some 50 megawatts. Many residents were left with around four hours of electricity per day as a result.

The Defense Minister was asked about the situation in Gaza, which has reached a new low after more than 125 Palestinians have been killed in weekly clashes with IDF along the border.

Liberman said he wanted to thank the soldiers along the Gaza border who the people of Israel owe “a huge debt”.

“I also want to convey a message to the residents of Gaza; you have in fact become hostages of the Hamas government, but you can build a much better future for your children. You can receive all the humanitarian and economic aid, but first of all you will have to kick out Hamas. Unfortunately, the prospect of coexistence, cooperation, and a better future for a Gazan can only happen once our POW’s and bodies of soldiers are returned," the Defense Minister stressed.

Francois Mori (POOL/AFP)

Israeli soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul were killed by Hamas during Israel's Operation Protective Edge in 2014 and their bodies have been held in Gaza since.

In addition the bodies of two other Israeli civilians -- Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed -- who entered Gaza during periods of poor mental health in 2014 and 2015 respectively, are also said to be held captive by the militant group.

A third Israeli, Jumma Abu Ghanima, has not been heard from since he was spotted entering the blockaded enclave in July 2016.

The issue of the bodies and prisoners that Hamas are believed to be holding is a tense issue. Liberman was asked about the possibility of a long term truce with Hamas.

"We are not opposed to an arrangement, but we certainly insist the Red Crescent will be allowed to go and see our prisoners and missing persons.  We are asking first for an arrangement for POWs and missing people,” Liberman said.

Neither Israel nor Hamas have admitted that a ceasefire has been agreed upon although the number of protesters along the Gaza border has declined lately.


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