President Peres
Photo: Moshe Ben Gershom, GPO
Peres: Israel demonstrating restraint in Gaza
President says IDF successful at hitting security targets, limiting civilian casualties and emphasizes operation is justified; blames Hamas for 'waging irrational war'
Hamas is to blame for the current situation in Gaza, President Shimon Peres said Sunday, responding to "Operation Cast Lead" whose aerial strike left 270 people dead - mostly Hamas operatives - and destroyed Hamas infrastructure heavily.


"In all of Israel's history, I don't remember a war more useless or irrational than the one that Hamas is waging against us," he said.


Israel evacuated the Gaza Strip in 2005 and, in response, received a harsh an unexpected response, Peres recalled. "Israel, of its own accord evicted settlements and settlers from Gaza…so I ask myself, why are they shooting? What do they want to accomplish? What do they expect, that we won't respond?"


"Hamas is appealing to the Arab world, but the truth is, the Arab world needs to appeal to Hamas to stop. This is a war of insanity, of irrational people who aren't ready to explain why they are shooting and what they are fighting for," the president said.


"No one among us longs for war," Peres added, "but at the top of our priorities is the safety of our children."


Peres emphasized that "we don't hate anyone and don't want to kill anyone (who is innocent) but we do have the right to defend ourselves." He noted that "the IDF had demonstrated restraint and capabilities to hit its targets while avoiding hitting innocents."


"The IDF is dealing with a moral dilemma of the greatest kind. Some of the weapons' caches are held in private homes. But homeowners in these homes were called and told, 'Get rid of your bombs. You can't live with them and continue to endanger us,'" Peres explained.


Israel's military operation in Gaza is "a justified operation that has no other alternative. The people are united behind the operation," he added.


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