Last week Israeli army started operation "Pillar of Cloud" in Gaza Strip, controlled by Hamas, in response to ongoing rocket attacks by Palestinian militants. Monday morning, November 19, Israel delivered an ultimatum to Hamas through Egypt, according to which the IDF will widen its offensive in Gaza in 36 hours unless Hamas ceases firing rockets and smuggling arms into Gaza. Now the world wonders what will happen to Middle East upon expiry of these 36 hours.  In an interview with ForUm famous Israeli political scientist, publicist and public figure Avigdor Eskin spoke about the future of Israel and Palestine.

- Mr. Eskin, what reaction should we expect from Hamas to the 36-hour ultimatum?

- Leaders of terrorists will use the remaining time to bring diplomatic pressure through Egypt. As you know, Cairo is governed by Islamic radicals, belonging to the same theological branch as Hamas.

Moreover, militants will try to persuade Qatar and Saudi Arabia to expand financial support of the movement on the ground of escalation of warfare.

But in fact, we all know where all these humanitarian and military support goes. Corruption has the same laws be it in Middle East or post-Soviet space.

- What did finance minister of Israel Yuval Steinitz mean, when saying that there is no escaping it seems, a military decision on Hamas in Gaza?

- The finance minister was speaking about possible necessity to carry out large-scale cleaning-up of the grounds and to end bloody years of Hamas rule in Gaza.

Israel controlled Gaza from 1967 to 2005. In 2005, Israeli army was completely withdrawn from Gaza and Jewish settlements were evacuated. In response, Israel was attacked by missiles. This is a serious problem for Israelis living in south. Now the government faces a dilemma - on one hand it does not want to interfere with internal affairs of Gaza, but on the other hand, it cannot accept terror.
- What reaction should be expected from US, Russia, EU, NATO?

- The reaction will be passive. However, in case Israeli troops enter Gaza, everybody will start speaking about distress of Gaza civil population. Nobody will remember how terrorists have been attacking our southern settlements with missiles, and they will forget that Arabs themselves kill hundreds of thousands of other Arabs. Recall they did it in Lebanon and look at the situation in Syria now.  

Israel must set clear strategic tasks and finish the military operation once and for all. Otherwise, we will have to go back to it year after year.
- How effective can be the mediation of other countries?

- It's like to treat cancer with aspirin. Hamas is a terroristic movement, fascist tumor in the body of modern humanity. The situation requires not mediation, but surgical intervention.

- How hot is it now in Israel? Should people forbear from visiting holy places, clinics or resorts?

- Sirens go off in south regions from time to time, but the center and north of the country are quiet. Visiting Holy Land brings blessing on people. Come.

- Is there a possibility to achieve peace one day?

- Peace will come only when Arabs renounce the idea to destroy Israel. Judging by their mood, it won't happen till the arrival of the Messiah. However, Israel has been around for 64 years, and we have good life here, believe me. As I said, there will be no peace, but we can have long-term truces. With Syria, for example, we have quiet borders for almost 40 years.

- What is the core of the conflict anyway, in your opinion?

- The answer lies in the very logic of events. Israel has sacrificed its settlements and withdrawn troops, meaning Israel has met all requirements of Palestinians and the world community. In response, we have received missile attacks on our cities.

With such actions, our enemies have proved that they have only one goal - to destroy Israel. But it will never happen. As the last verse of Amos the Prophet says, "I will plant them on their land, and they shall never again be uprooted out of the land that I have given them,” says the Lord your God.
Yulia Artamoshchenko


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