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Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin Photo: Alex Kolomoisky
Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin Photo: Alex Kolomoisky
 
Olmert. Waiting for Hamas' answer Photo: Gil Yohanan
Olmert. Waiting for Hamas' answer Photo: Gil Yohanan
 
 

Diskin: Time favors Hamas

Shin Bet chief updates government on Hamas' new capabilities, claims Iranian rockets smuggled into Gaza could reach Ashdod, Kiryat Gat. Warns State must act fast, threat to Israel is steadily rising

Roni Sofer
Published: 05.25.08, 18:19 / Israel News

Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin said during the weekly government meeting on Sunday that since the breaching of the Philadelphi Route Hamas has succeeded in smuggling very advanced weapons into the Gaza Strip, and that there are certain indications that the organization now has rockets able to surpass Ashkelon, and possibly even to hit Ashdod and Kiryat Gat.

 

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"There has been cooperation between Hamas and Iran, and the Shin Bet has already recognized Iranian-made rockets that have a range far greater than the Gaza Strip. Time favors Hamas and the rest of the terror organizations, and the threat on the State of Israel is steadily rising," Diskin warned.

 

Regarding the negotiations towards a truce, Diskin remarked that Hamas have expressed skepticism, but "the Egyptians want very much to bring a truce into being. They fear a mass breakout into Egypt and desire to keep their hegemony as a mediator. Hamas is interested in a truce but does not accept Israel's terms. They are emphasizing the removal of the siege and buying time."

 

Diskin added that if negotiations failed, Hamas would demand that Egypt open the Rafah crossing.

 

According to Diskin, Israel has demanded that Egypt commit to halting the smuggling of weapons and the strengthening of Hamas.

 

"Hamas is demanding a time schedule for the truce in the West Bank. Israel is demanding that the truce exclude the West Bank. As expected, Hamas does not wish to be forced to impose the truce upon the other terror organizations, but we are requiring it," he said, adding that Israel had to act fast, because "as time goes on, a military operation will cost both sides more casualties." He added that he believed the chances for a truce are low.

 

'Nearing decisive point'

Regarding kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, Diskin said that the rift between the sides was very difficult to bridge. "Here as well the Egyptian efforts have been genuine and intense. There are very big gaps between the sides on this issue," he said.

 

Diskin also warned of efforts to carry out a kidnapping attempt in the West Bank. "500 Palestinian security officers have been deployed in Jenin, who were trained in Jordan. There is much activity where social order is concerned, but there has been no change regarding terrorism," he said. 

 

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert addressed the situation in Gaza, and said that "things are nearing a decisive point." He added that Israel "wants peace and security both in the short run and in the long run – and we will have to make decisions."

 

Olmert noted that Israel was waiting for the Egyptian mediator, Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman, in order to hear the answers he received from the Palestinian factions for Israel's demands.

 

"If this result is not reached through Egyptian mediation, we will have to take other means. The government has nothing more important than securing its residents' safety. Both I and the defense officials are losing sleep over this issue. We must secure the safety of the south's residents."

 

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