Defense minister Ehud Barak says the government alone has the tools to see "the bigger picture" and that a time may come when Israel may decide to conquer the Gaza Strip • A senior diplomatic official: Netanyahu avoided a ground assault due to an Egyptian threat to cancel the peace treaty.
Should Hamas violate the terms of the cease-fire, Israel is prepared to renew its assault in Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday.
At a meeting with Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino at national police headquarters, Netanyahu said he was aware that some citizens expected Israel to act more forcefully. "We always choose, as we did in this operation, when and how to take action, as well as against whom we act. We are giving the cease-fire a chance now. This is the correct move at the moment for Israel, but we are also ready for the possibility that the cease-fire will not be honored," he said.
Although Operation Pillar of Defense ended on Wednesday night and a cease-fire agreement with Hamas has been enforced since then by both sides, the terms of the agreement have not been made public and it is still unclear why the government did not order the Israel Defense Forces to launch a ground assault during the operation.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman commented on those matters on Thursday, saying, "We cannot ignore requests by the U.S. president and EU heads of state, who formed an international coalition that supported Israel."
Lieberman's remarks may have been based on a statement by U.S. President Barack Obama several days ago. "There is no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. So we are fully supportive of Israel's right to defend itself from missiles landing on people's homes," Obama said at a news conference in Bangkok.
Addressing the possibility of an Israel Defense Forces ground assault, Obama said "If this can be accomplished without a ramping up of military activity in Gaza, that is preferable. That's not just preferable for the people of Gaza. It's also not preferable for Israelis because if Israeli troops are in Gaza they're much more at risk of incurring fatalities or being wounded."
A senior diplomatic official claimed on Thursday that Netanyahu avoided a ground assault due to an Egyptian threat to cancel the peace treaty with Israel. According to the official, Egypt warned Netanyahu of that consequence via Mossad chief Tamir Pardo, who served as chief Israeli cease-fire negotiator in Cairo.