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Photo: AP
Weapons-smuggling tunnel (archive photo)
Photo: AP
Photo: Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry Spokesperson
Minister Eli Yishai
Photo: Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry Spokesperson
Ministers: Recapture Philadelphi route
Amid incessant Qassam attacks and arms smuggling into tumultuous Gaza Strip, Shas Chairman Eli Yishai says ‘We must find a formula to take Philadelphi over again’; Peres: We didn't leave Gaza to return there
Qassams continued to be fired and smugglings into the Gaza Strip were persistent, as the government threatened Sunday morning to take over the Philadelphi route again.

 

During a government meeting Sunday, Defense Minister Amir Peretz surveyed the escalating violence in the Gaza Strip. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert examined the possibility of convening the national security cabinet this week due to the continued escalation and chaos in the Palestinian Authority.

 

Trade, Industry and Labor Minister Eli Yishai said, “There is no doubt that Gaza needs to act and not delay. Delaying is dangerous. Although it isn’t right to make declarations, there should be a hearing in the cabinet, and not thinking of what to do every time Qassams are fired.”

 

“I said it even before giving back the Philadelphi route, that it could be an opening to hell. We must find a formula to take it over again,” he said.

 

Even Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog (Labor) said that “there is no doubt the situation in Gaza is getting worse and requires significant and precise attention from Israel. I heard Mahmoud a-Zahar (who called Israel a cancer and said it would be destroyed), and Hamas’ bragging could cost them dearly.”

 

Consensus

Minister for Pensioners Raffi Eitan said that Israel should reclaim control of the Philadelphi Route which lies between the Gaza-Egypt border to halt the smuggling of arms from Egypt into the tiny coastal territory.

 

Eitan said Israel should find a solution to arms smugglings from Egypt but warned Israel should not recapture the Gaza Strip. "Gaza is a problem. I believe we need to recapture the Philadelphi route. I think we need to deal with it in a pinpoint manner and not occupy it anew," he said.

 

Vice Premier Shimon Peres said that the situation in the Gaza Strip was very bad. “We gave Gaza to the Palestinians, and they are tempting fate and pushing their government to the limit. Hamas is acting savagely, shooting, not respecting agreements and not willing to sing agreements.”

 

“Who will support them? I’m very sorry about that. It was not our intention. We gave Gaza to the Palestinians, we let them take care of their own problems out of good will, and they tempt fate and bring an end to their country and their government,” he continued.

 

Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz also spoke before the Sunday meeting and said that urgent decisions regarding Gaza needed to be made. MK Ephraim Sneh, chairman of the Labor faction, also said before the meeting that “we might have to discuss taking over the Philadelphi route again. The issue needs to be deliberated in the government."

 

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