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Barak at cabinet meeting (archives)
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Barak: Egypt stopping arms from getting to Gaza
Defense minister briefs cabinet on Cairo's efforts to thwart weapons smuggling into Strip, says Israeli offensive met every operational objective

Defense Minister Ehud Barak used his cabinet security briefing Sunday to praise Egypt for stopping arms from getting to Hamas operatives in Gaza Strip.

 

"There is an accumulation of weapons and equipment meant for Hamas in Sinai, but Egypt is preventing it from getting into the Strip," he said.

 

Barak also briefed the cabinet on Amos Gilad's visit to Cairo last Thursday, saying that the head of the Defense Ministry's Security-Diplomatic Bureau met with Egyptian officials on the need to address the arms smugglings through the Philadelphi Route.

 

As for Operation Cast Lead, Barak said the Gaza offensive met all of its operational objectives in full: "We dealt Hamas a massive blow, the harshest since its inception. We also managed to create deterrence where projectile fire into Israel is concerned."

 

Barak stressed that since IDF forces left the Strip last Tuesday, no rockets have been fired at the western Negev.

 

Israel, he added, also managed to deter other radical elements. "We have created an effective diplomatic mechanism to stop smuggling by harnessing Egypt, the US and the European Union's support. We have reinforced the public's faith in the Israeli armed forces, the State and its institutions."

 

Speaking of the dire humanitarian situation Gaza, Barak said that the Karni, Kerem Shalom, Nahal Oz and Erez crossings have all been opened, allowing truckloads of goods through to the Strip.

 

Israel, he said, aims to make sure the Palestinian Authority is as involved in the humanitarian aid shipments as possible – an end towards international talks are currently being held.

 

The defense minister also spoke of the government's recent decision to provide IDF soldiers who took part in the Israeli offensive in Gaza with full legal backing in case of any legal action against them, saying that the Israeli government bears the responsibility for sending the troops into battle and therefore must provide them with its full support and backing.

 

Barak ended his brief by describing his visits to the bereaved families and those injured during the offensive, saying he found himself encouraged by the support given to him and the operation. He offered his and the government's condolences to the families and wished the injured a speedy recovery.  

 

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