Int’l probes only serve ter­ror­ists, says Ya’alon

‘Ha­mas has to be blamed for send­ing their peo­ple to the fence’

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By ANNA AHRONHEIM

In­ter­na­tional in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the deaths of Pales­tini­ans dur­ing vi­o­lent clashes along the Gaza bor­der serve “ter­ror­ists,” for­mer de­fense min­is­ter Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe “Boogie” Ya’alon told The Jerusalem Post on Wed­nes­day.

“In­ter­na­tional in­ves­ti­ga­tions play into the hands of ter­ror­ists,” Ya’alon said af­ter the United States blocked a UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil state­ment call­ing for an in­de­pen­dent probe into the deadly vi­o­lence which left more than 60 Pales­tini­ans dead on Mon­day.

The call for the in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tions was sup­ported by the United King­dom and Ger­many.

“It is our view that an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion com­mis­sion can clar­ify the vi­o­lent in­ci­dents and the bloody vi­o­la­tions at the bor­der area,” Ger­man government spokesman St­ef­fen Seib­ert was quoted as say­ing.

Alis­tair Burt, a min­is­ter at the Bri­tish For­eign Of­fice re­spon­si­ble for Mid­dle East af­fairs, said while his government “un­der­stands why Is­rael would seek to pro­tect its bor­der,” it should show “greater re­straint” in the use of live fire. He added that the in­quiry should look into why so much force was used against the demon­stra­tors.

Ya’alon called the demon­stra­tions a “ma­nip­u­la­tion” by Ha­mas, which uses them to send mem­bers of their Nukhba force to carry out at­tacks against Is­raeli troops and civil­ians. He stressed that Is­rael has not oc­cu­pied the Ha­mas-run en­clave since Is­rael’s uni­lat­eral dis­en­gage­ment in 2005.

“We don’t send our sol­diers into Gaza, Ha­mas has to be blamed for send­ing their peo­ple to the fence. The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity has to blame them,” he said, adding, “We don’t want to kill any Pales­tini­ans, and the IDF com­man­ders in the field know that any death on the other side doesn’t serve our in­ter­ests.”

Pales­tinian Is­lamic Ji­had said on Tues­day that three of the peo­ple killed Mon­day were mem­bers of the Ira­nian-backed ter­ror­ist group.

Then on Wed­nes­day, Ha­mas of­fi­cial Salah Bar­dawil told the Pales­tinian Bal­adna news out­let that another 50 were mem­bers of Ha­mas.

“We are not talk­ing about demon­stra­tions. We are talk­ing about Ha­mas us­ing these demon­stra­tions for ter­ror­ism, to send their Nukhba forces to fire at troops and try to kid­nap sol­diers,” Ya’alon said.

While the clashes along the Gaza bor­der did not spill over into the West Bank, he warned that Is­rael should be ready for all sce­nar­ios in the com­ing weeks.

“In the past we had waves of hos­til­i­ties [in the West Bank] and we should be ready for that. It would serv­ing their in­ter­est to put the Pales­tinian is­sue back into the in­ter­na­tional dis­course,” he said.

Ya’alon then spoke of Iran – which launched more than 20 rock­ets into north­ern Is­rael from Syria last week – say­ing it has not been able to use Pales­tinian prox­ies such as Ha­mas or Is­lamic Ji­had to carry out at­tacks along the Gaza bor­der or in the West Bank be­cause of Is­rael’s “su­pe­rior in­tel­li­gence.”

Is­rael’s in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity has suc­ceeded in devel­op­ing ca­pa­bil­i­ties that have given it the up­per hand over its en­e­mies and played a “cru­cial” role in de­ter­ring Iran, he said.

“What we have in Tehran is a rogue regime which is the main in­sti­ga­tor for in­sta­bil­ity in the Mid­dle East whose in­ten­tion to chal­lenge Is­rael. We share no bor­der with Iran but they call to wipe us off the map,” Ya’alon said, stress­ing that Is­rael will not al­low Iran to threaten it with the mis­siles and air de­fense sys­tems that have been brought into Syria.

“We don’t threaten Iran. We don’t de­ploy troops on the Ira­nian bor­der, but they try to pro­voke us with prox­ies. The launch­ing of the rock­ets and the UAV with ex­plo­sives they sent in Fe­bru­ary should have made them learn their les­son that we have su­pe­rior in­tel­li­gence. They are trans­par­ent.”

Asked if it was time for Is­rael to openly dis­cuss re­gional co­op­er­a­tion with Arab coun­tries, Ya’alon said Sunni Gulf states such as Saudi Ara­bia now un­der­stand they are fight­ing the same en­emy as Is­rael, as Iran’s goal of es­tab­lish­ing re­gional hege­mony is un­der­min­ing gov­ern­ments through­out the Mid­dle East.

“And of course we are the same side of fight­ing Mus­lim Broth­er­hood led by [Turk­ish Pres­i­dent Re­cep Tayyip] Er­do­gan and ji­hadist el­e­ments,” he said. “There is room for co­op­er­a­tion but nor­mal­iza­tion is up to them. We are ready when they are ready.”

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