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Hamas: Barak's threats of military action in Gaza are 'foolish'

Aug. 5, 2008 1:44 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 5, 2008 1:44 P.M.)
Gaza - Ma'an - Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak's comments on conducting a large-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip were foolish, Hamas said on Monday.

"Barak's declarations show that the Israeli government failed to cope with Hamas and the Palestinian resistance's steadfastness, and they also failed because the Palestinian people supports the resistance." said Hamas Spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum.

Barhoum said that Barak's comments were nothing more than election-year propaganda, in light of disagreement and rivalry amongst Israeli political and military organizations.

"Barak and his fruitless government do not know that if they commit such follies, they will pay a heavy price. Violence, cruelty and terrorism can't provide occupation with safety and security," Barhoum added.

Abu Salim, the official spokesperson of National Resistance Brigades, the military wing of the leftist Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), said that Barak is still seeking to recover the image of the Israeli military, which was tarnished in the 2006 war in Lebanon.

"We confirm our readiness along with other factions' readiness to respond to any attack against our people," Abu Salim.

Abu Salim accused Barak of attempting to exploit the current internal divisions among Palestinians in order to carry out an aggressive strategy against the Palestinians.

Speaking at an Israeli Labor Party event in Jerusalem on Monday evening, Barak said "anyone who misses the military operations in Gaza mustn't worry, they will come."

Following Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's announcement that he will resign, Barak is vying against Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima-affiliated Foreign Minister Tzip Livni to become Prime Minister.

A ceasefire went into effect in the Gaza Strip on 19 June. The six-month Egyptian-brokered truce was negotiated indirectly between Hamas and Israel.

Settler groups awaiting Gaza invasion

Separately Israeli settler groups are expected to announce on Tuesday their intention to re-occupy settlements in the Gaza Strip that Israel unilaterally evacuated in 2005.

Boaz Haetzni, one of the leaders of the Homesh First Movement, a settler group, told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that the settlers plan to follow the Israeli military into Gaza during the next major invasion.

Haetzni told Haaretz that as soon as the Israel Defense Forces reenters the Gaza Strip, "and in our estimation the 'big operation' is only a matter of time, we will follow them in. We will not ask for permission from anyone. The [settlement] groups will be ready, and this evening we will start an organized sign-up for them."

***Updated at 18:02 Bethlehem time
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