'They are not our enemies.' Peres
Photo: Ran Aharon
The United Nations Security Council must denounce Hamas rather than Israel, President Shimon Peres said Tuesday.
Speaking ahead of an emergency Security Council session on the situation in the Gaza Strip, scheduled to take place later in the day, Peres said that "the Council must ask Hamas why it is firing on children and women in Israel."
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The president, who was visiting Kibbutz Maagan Michael in northern Israel, added that "Hamas must understand that there is no need for negotiations between (the organization) and Israel. The equation is simple: Once Hamas stops the missile madness, Israel's operations in the Strip will be halted.
"We have no interest in seeing Gaza's residents suffer. They are not our enemies, but Gaza's residents must complain to Hamas. They are the only ones who can bring down Hamas and they must demand that Hamas stop firing on Israel."
According to Peres, "In this case, there is no doubt who started and there is no doubt that Hamas is constantly firing missiles, and this cannot remain unanswered.
"The responsibility for the situation in Gaza lies unequivocally on Hamas' shoulders. There is not one state in the world which will be fired on without retaliating. There is no excuse for the fire and no justification to ignore it."
'Lift the paralyzing siege'
Meanwhile Tuesday, Foreign Ministry appealed to several Security Council members in a bid to receive their support ahead of the emergency session.
Israel's representatives across the world were instructed to continue with their PR efforts aimed at explaining the steps taken against terror activities originating in Gaza. Foreign ambassadors to Israel were briefed on the issue by Foreign Ministry officials.
Earlier in the day Foreign Ministry Director-General Aharon Abramovich instructed the Israeli Mission to the UN to contest the Security Council's decision regarding Gaza.
"There cannot be a situation in which the Security Council only discusses the condition of the residents of Gaza and completely ignores the plight of Israelis living under the incessant Qassam threat," he told senior ministry officials.
On Sunday UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon phoned Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to express his concern over the situation in Gaza. The Security Council has complied with the Arab Leagues request to push forward its meeting on Gaza, which was originally scheduled for Wednesday.
The Palestinian observer at the United Nations, Riad Mansour, said he hoped the Security Council would demand that Israel "lift the paralyzing siege that harms the Palestinian civilian population".
Neta Sela contributed to the report