Israel's Lieberman calls for Gaza to be "cleansed"

Published Monday, June 24, 2013

Israeli troops should reoccupy and “cleanse” Gaza of Hamas, ex-foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday after several rockets were launched from the Strip late-Sunday.

War jets launched an attack on the besieged Palestinian territory following rocket fire from the Palestinian territory, sources from both sides of the conflict said.

Palestinian witnesses said the air raids, which caused no injuries, hit uninhabited sites belonging to the radical Islamic Jihad movement, which is currently feuding with the Islamist Hamas Gaza rulers.

Shelling was also reported in empty areas near the Asda city in Khan Younis and in the Deir al-Balah district, including the al-Zawayda village, while tunnels were targeted along the Rafah border, with no injuries reported.

Israel also shut down all crossings into Gaza, Palestinian Authority liaison official Raed Fattouh said.

"In another two years, Hamas will have thousands of rockets that could reach Tel Aviv and beyond," Lieberman, who currently heads the parliament's foreign and defense committee, told public radio.

"Since Hamas has no intention to recognize Israel or coexist in peace or accept the Jewish presence in Israel, there will be no alternative and eventually Israel will have to seriously consider the possibility of occupying all of the Strip and carrying out a serious cleansing," he said.

Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, only to impose a crippling land, air and sea blockade two years later.

The latest exchange of fire came as a row erupted between Hamas and the Islamic Jihad movement in the Gaza Strip.

Islamic Jihad severed contacts with Hamas on Sunday after a commander in its military wing, Raed Jundiya, died of wounds sustained in a police shooting, a leader of the radical group told AFP.

Islamic Jihad claims to have 8,000 fighters in its military wing, making it the second largest armed group in Gaza behind only Hamas itself.

On Monday, a spokesman for Gaza's prime minister Ismail Haniya announced that the Hamas government was expanding the investigative commission looking into Jundiya's death to include beyond the Hamas interior ministry members of the Islamic Jihad and Jundiya's family.

(AFP, Ma’an Al-Akhbar)

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