Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni toured Sderot and the Gaza vicinity communities Wednesday, along with 70 foreign diplomats, as part of Israel's international efforts to show the world the realities of Qassam fire.
The diplomats were also given a security briefing by defense establishment officials, and met with residents of the various communities hit by Qassam rockets.
"when Israel withdrew from the Strip, we offered the Palestinians hope, but the reality is that of terror," Livni told the diplomats.
"Hamas' power in Gaza is growing. The international community supported the IDF's pullout from the Philadelphi Route, but Hamas used it to build an army in Gaza, small in scope, but powerful within its midst. Decision maker in Israel and around the world must take that under advisement.
"Israel's strategy is still to differentiate between the radical and moderate forces in the area. Hamas is a radical Islamic terror organization and we have to keep fighting it and delegitimizing it.
"We continue the negotiation process," she added, "but we have to be realistic – the negotiation will not fix the problems in Gaza all on its own, not in the short-run at least. On the contrary, the situation in Gaza makes it difficult to implement the results of the negotiations."
Aviv Shiron, deputy director of communications at the Foreign Ministry, told Ynet that the tour was "part of the effort to enhance world diplomatic, media and public awareness to the situation the residents of Sderot and the Gaza vicinity communities face every day, for the last seven years.
"What we want to do," added Shiron, "is to increase world awarened to the terrorist entity running the Gaza Strip. Today's efforts focused on diplomats; but the Foreign Ministry is also working on reaching policy makers and public opinion world wide."