Sunday, August 3, 2008

Top IDF officer: No Gaza Humanitarian Crisis; Hamas ready to take over West Bank

Nothing here we didn't know, is there? But as this is the Middle East, nobody will believe it, and Israel will still be blamed.
 Last update - 08:45 03/08/2008       
Top IDF officer: Gaza was never close to a humanitarian crisis
By Amos Harel
The economic pressure Israel placed on the Gaza Strip is what led Hamas to agree to the cease-fire, Col. Nir Press, outgoing head of the District Coordination Office in the Gaza Strip, told Haaretz.
However Press insists that at no time did a humanitarian crisis prevail in the Strip.
Press, who today ends three years as head of the coordination office said that when he began his term, right after disengagement, "there were still quite a few expectations." According to Press, a change took place not after Hamas ousted Fatah from the Gaza Strip in June 2007, but after Gilad Shalit was kidnapped in June 2006.
Press, who will be retiring from the army after a 26-year career, will be succeeded by Col. Moshe Levy.
Press said the directive he received was clear: "No humanitarian crisis and no direct talks with Hamas." Press also said: "The starting point has to be that the Palestinians will stay here, two minutes from Netiv Ha'asara," referring to an Israeli Jewish community on the northern border of the Gaza Strip, "and 45 minutes from Tel Aviv. Therefore, we continued our meetings with residents from the Strip during Hamas' period."
With regard to the six-week-old cease-fire, Press says Israel's economic pressure led Hamas to understand that continued rocket fire hurt Hamas. "There was a period when they thought that everything was win-win for them. They attacked the crossings and assumed that we'd close them, and they could blame us for shortages. We managed to make it clear through the Arab press that Gaza had to choose: merchandise or Qassams and mortars." Press said the Gaza Strip was never in danger of becoming a humanitarian crisis.
"The claims of electricity shortages and hunger were part of Hamas' campaign of lies." Press says he sees increased Iranian involvement in the Gaza Strip since disengagement. "It expresses itself not only by sending people for training in camps in Iran, but also in giving money to the unemployed.
Press says Iran's next goal is the West Bank. Today there is no real alternative to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. "Last month, Hamas forces took over the PA presidential complex in Gaza. The message to Fatah is 'you have no place here any more.'"

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