Israeli law enforcement officials are closing in on the killers of three Israeli teenagers and it is only a matter of time before they are captured, Ido Aharoni, consul general of Israel, said Monday on Newsmax TV.
"We know exactly who they are. We know which families they come from,'' Aharoni told "The Steve Malzberg Show,'' adding that the suspects appear to have connections with the terrorist group Hamas.
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"We know that they come from a very well established, well connected family within Hamas circles," Aharoni said.
"There's no doubt in our minds that they were operating in the spirit of Hamas if not under a general directive issued by Hamas. They're hiding somewhere, and we don't know where they are, but we'll find them.''
Tensions have been high since the teenagers, abducted on June 12, were later discovered dead, with Israelis blaming Hamas for the killings.
A Palestinian teenager was then killed in apparent retaliation, an act followed by fierce rocket attacks by Hamas on key Israeli cities — assaults that Israel returned with its own rocket fire.
Aharoni said Israel could easily take out Hamas with intensive firepower, but the question is, is that the right move?
"In terms of Israel’s military might, in terms of Israel's operational capabilities, we could level the whole area. That's not the question, the question is, can it be done from a political point of view?'' he said.
"The Israeli cabinet, which is Israel's commander-in-chief, is comprised of several elements. Each element has its own agenda, each element has its own constituency and has its own leader.
"Obviously the decisions that the cabinet produces at the end are always a result of this discussion between the various factions that compile the cabinet.''
If such an action were taken, it would be swift, he said.
"Nobody wants to occupy Gaza long-term because this has tremendous implications for the state of Israel,'' he said.
But many opposed a major military operation, Aharoni says.
"They have all sorts of considerations: Are we willing to pay the price in life? Are we willing to engage ourselves into this very long operation? This may last three or four months,'' he said.
"Are we willing to engage in this debate with the world? What's going to happen, and so on and so forth? So, like anything in Israeli politics, the outcome will be a result of a lively discussion.''
Regardless, Israel is blameless in its rocket-firing response to Hamas, Aharoni said.
"This conflict was actually imposed on us by Hamas. We did not start firing rockets,'' he said.
Aharoni also thinks that many Palestinians are having doubts about their ties to Hamas.
"Palestinians are beginning to question, what is the logic here of what we're doing? What is the rationale here? What is the end goal? What's Hamas' strategy? What do they want?'' he said.
"After all, they do know they cannot destroy the state of Israel with rockets. They can disrupt our lives, as they did, dramatically even, but then there's a price that they're paying. What is it that they want? And of course we know the answer. The answer is, they simply refuse to accept our very right to exist.''
Earlier, on Newsmax TV's
"America's Forum,'' Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon
said that each time sirens alert Israelis that a Palestinian-launched missile is heading their way, the people of Gaza should lose electricity.
"I don't know if you're aware, but we are providing the electricity into Gaza," he told hosts J.D. Hayworth and John Bachman.
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"By the way, they're not paying for that, but we are providing electricity, and it's being used to send missiles against us.
"My idea was that whenever we have to run for shelter, and we have to put our life into pause, there will be no electricity in Gaza for a period of time, and those on the other side will feel what we are feeling under the missile threat."
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