Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Sunday called for considering the reoccupation of Gaza by Israel following what he described as a surge in rocket attacks, as the UN urged ‘restraint’ over the disappearance of three Jewish settlers in the West Bank.
Lieberman was quoted by Israel Radio as saying that the reoccupation of Gaza would be more convenient than small-scale operations against the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas.
A few hours before Lieberman made these remarks, Israeli warplanes launched strikes against 12 targets inside the blockaded Gaza Strip, including ones belonging to Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ armed wing.
“There were a total of 12 strikes in two stages,” an Israeli army spokesman told AFP.
Israel has been blockading Gaza since 2006 when Hamas swept the legislative elections and formed a new government.
Hamas controlled the coastal enclave until the formation of a Palestinian unity government earlier this month following a reconciliation deal with rival Fatah.
The border between Gaza and Israel has been more tense since the disappearance of three Israeli settlers in the West Bank on June 12.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Hamas of kidnapping the settlers, and launched sweeping search operations to find them.
Since the beginning of the search, five Palestinians have been killed in the west Bank and nearly 400 arrested, mostly Hamas members.
The UN’s human rights office on Friday urged Israel and its adversaries to exercise restraint amid the crackdown on Palestinians.
“Clearly these boys need to be found, that’s totally understandable, but the scale of operations and the number of people they are affecting is deeply disturbing,” said its spokesman Rupert Coville.
“We reiterate our call for strict adherence to international law by all relevant actors and join others in their call for restraint,” he told reporters.
Hundreds of homes have also been searched, media offices, universities and welfare organizations raided, at least 13 buildings demolished and water cisterns drained or damaged, Colville said.
“We are also concerned about reports of damage to property and theft during these operations, especially house-to-house searches, and their traumatic effect on children and families,” he added.
(Middle East Eye – www.middleeasteye.net)