JERUSALEM, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel is ready to expand its operation against Islamic Hamas movement, according to a statement by his office.
"Over the weekend, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) attacked multiple targets in Gaza in response to firing at Israel from the Gaza Strip," Netanyahu said at the beginning of the weekly cabinet meeting. "We are ready to expand this operation as per need," he added.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman joined the sentiment and told Army Radio Sunday morning that Israel should consider conquering the Gaza Strip once more, after Israel evacuated the lands in the 2005 disengagement plan.
Israel had been conducting an operation in the West Bank territories in order to find three missing Israeli teens, believed to be kidnapped two weeks ago. Amid the operation, hundreds of Hamas operatives were arrested and some of the group's institutions were shut down.
In addition, Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip fired more than 30 rockets into southern Israel in the past two weeks as the manhunt in the West Bank intensified. Israel had in response conducted several air raids against targets in the enclave, which killed more than three Palestinians and injured others.
Israel holds Hamas responsible for the kidnap and on Thursday the Israeli Shin Bet security agency released the names of two Hamas operatives from Hebron believed to be the kidnappers. Netanyahu called on Abbas again to dissolve the unity government with Hamas amid the recent developments.
"Immediately after the abduction we said Hamas was responsible. Abu Mazen (Abbas) says he opposes the abductions and he wants to proceed on the path to peace. If he stands by what he says, there is only way to advance peace, and that is to tear up his agreement with Hamas," Netanyahu said. Israel suspended negotiations with the Palestinian Authority in April amid the establishment of the new Palestinian unity government.
The Israeli prime minister also took notice of a demonstration conducted by Israeli-Arab citizens over the weekend against the IDF's operation in the West Bank in the northern city of Umm Al- Fahm.
The demonstration, which included hundreds of participants, was held in support of the Palestinian prisoners and administrative detainees and in solidarity with West Bank residents in light of the IDF's operation, the Ha'aretz daily reported. Netanyahu attacked the demonstrators, which he said supported the kidnappers and called to kidnap more Israeli soldiers.
"Over the weekend there was a demonstration in which infuriating calls and support for abducting IDF soldiers were heard," Netanyahu said. "Most Israeli Arabs do not take this view and I call on their leaders to be courageous and strongly condemn such calls," he said.
The prime minister also said he asked certified authorities to re-examine the legality of the northern branch of the Islamic movement, which he said was behind the demonstration.
"It constantly preaches against the state of Israel and its people publicly identify with terrorist organizations such as Hamas," he said.
JERUSALEM, June 26 (Xinhua) -- Two Hamas operatives from the southern West Bank city of Hebron are believed to be responsible for the kidnapping of the three Israeli teens who went missing two weeks ago, the Israeli Shin Bet Security Agency revealed on Thursday.
In a statement, the agency said that Marwan Al-Quasma and Amar Abu Aisha, two central Hamas operatives who used to be imprisoned by Israel in the past, are the main suspects behind the abduction. Full story