Israel top envoy to Taiwan speaks on conflict with Palestine
Central News Agency
2014-07-14 11:27 PM
Taipei, July 14 (CNA) Israel's top envoy to Taiwan said Monday that her country will not stop targeting Palestinian terrorists and launchers used to fire rockets at Israeli cities until there is a guarantee that the attacks will come to an end. Amid the escalating tensions between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza in recent weeks, Simona Halperin held a press briefing with the Taiwanese media to speak about the current situation and Israel's stance on the issue. "Israel does not have a fight with the Palestinian people. Israel has a fight with Palestinian terrorists," she said. "Israel has a fight with the Hamas" and "with the people who openly on camera, on TV, come and say we want to kill all Jews, all Israelis." Israel would be happy to reach a situation that guarantees that there are no rockets fired at her country, Halperin said, citing remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Hostilities between Israel and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, escalated this month after the killing of three Israeli teenagers in June and a Palestinian teen in early July. A militant Islamist group, Hamas is designated as a terrorist organization by Israel, the European Union and several other countries. It has long record of attacks and refuses to recognize the existence of the state of Israel. After Hamas increased the firing of rockets at Israel in recent weeks, Israel later decided to conduct airstrikes on Gaza, described by Israel as legitimate military actions. Israel is not targeting civilians but legitimate military targets such as rocket launchers and places where illegal arsenals are stored, according to Halperin, who said Israeli military actions are being carried out on a principle of proportionality. Before Israeli forces conduct airstrikes on Gaza, they inform civilians there of the actions to come and give them five minutes to take shelter in safer areas to avoid being hurt and killed, she said. Foreign media reports indicate, however, that more than 170 people in Gaza have been killed in the Israeli attacks and over 1,200 have been injured. The United Nations estimates that around 70 percent of the casualties have been civilians and more than 30 percent are children. Navi Pillay, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, has called for an investigation into the bomb raids. "We have received deeply disturbing reports that many of the civilian casualties, including of children, occurred as a result of strikes on homes," she said on July 11. "Such reports raise serious doubt about whether the Israeli strikes have been in accordance with international humanitarian law and international human rights law." Halperin repeated the contention of the Israeli military that Hamas has used civilians as human shields for military sites, and said Israel has extended humanitarian assistance to the residents of Gaza. There have been no reports of Israeli deaths, partly because of Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system that has intercepted some of the rockets fired by Hamas, Halperin said. Israel will continue to protect its civilians, but in the meantime, it will try hard to minimize damage and the loss of lives of the uninvolved, she said. "Israel will not stop its targeting of the terrorists and the launchers if there are no guarantees that they are going to stop," she said. Asked about possible solutions to the conflict, Halperin said "it's difficult to see who will be able to play a constructive role." Under normal circumstances, one would wish a figure in a position like the U.N. secretary general would play such a role, she said. But she did not feel that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was living up to the hopes of the international community to be an active peace broker. So far, she said, she did not see an obvious candidate for being able to exert enough authority to bring Hamas to commit to stopping violence and targeting civilians. (By Elaine Hou)
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