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Israel Says It's Winning Diplomacy War on Gaza

Monday, 29 Dec 2008 07:24 PM

By Stewart Stogel

UNITED NATIONS — Israel’s U.N. ambassador dismissed calls for ending the violent campaign in Gaza, saying the battle against Hamas terrorist gangs has broad international support -- including in the Arab world.

The comments come as violence in Gaza enters its third day. Israeli air strikes continued to pound targets along the Gaza Strip, where 350 have been killed and more than 1,500 wounded.

"We have a lot of support from the American government, Ambassador Gabriela Shalev told Newsmax. “They’ve issued declarations that support Israel and put the blame on Hamas.”

Shalev, a former law professor at Hebrew University who took the U.N. position in September, said Hamas and its supporters must be held accountable for casualties on both sides of the border.

"The attacks are plainly on the hands of Hamas, she said. “They are cynically using the people of Gaza. They use them as human shields and this is the reason why so many people are being killed."

Despite public condemnation of the Israeli assault by Arab leaders, Shalev told Newsmax that some in the region are backing Israel’s campaign against Hamas. She noted that while Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was visiting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, “Hamas was breaking the truce, and shot no less than 60 rockets over Israeli civilian towns. Mubarak condemned it."

Shalev stressed that Israel will no longer negotiate with Hamas officials and will only deal with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his West Bank government.

"We were respecting a state of calm, but [Hamas] kept shooting rockets over our cities and towns,” Shalev said. After exhausting all kinds of negotiations, of trying to bring them to their senses, we had no other options but to open this military operation.”

“We have very serious negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. We still will talk with them for a two-state solution,” she said. “They are the legitimate leaders of the Palestinian people. Hamas took them hostage, [along with] the whole population in Gaza."

Israel still wants to avoid sending ground troops into the Gaza Strip, Shalev added. The entire thrust of the current campaign is simply to get Hamas to stop persistent rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli communities.

Earlier on Monday, Israel's version of the Red Cross, the Magen David Adom, called up more than 14,000 volunteers to help treat casualties in border region with Gaza.

Also on Monday, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon condemned Israel for a "disproportionate" reaction to Hamas' attacks. Shalev says such conclusions are unwarranted:

"There is no proportionality between a state that is defending its citizens and terrorist gangs that is shooting rockets at Israeli towns over the last eight years,” Shalev said. “There is no proportionality."

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