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Last Updated: Sunday, 2 July 2006, 11:04 GMT 12:04 UK
Gaza crisis
On Sunday 02 July 2006, Andrew Marr interviewed Zvi Rav-Ner, Israeli Diplomat

Please note "BBC Sunday AM" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

Zvi Rav-Ner
Zvi Rav-Ner, Israeli Diplomat

ANDREW MARR: Now according to the Palestinian Government the situation in Gaza since the capture of a young Israeli soldier by militants has become quite simply a war.

During the past few days Israeli air strikes have hit government buildings, they've crippled bridges and they've taken out a power station entirely.

Overnight Israeli aircraft destroyed the offices of the Prime Minister though he was unharmed.

Is this a proportionate response? I'm joined by Israel's Deputy Ambassador in London, Zvi Rav-Ner. Welcome.

Thank you very much indeed for joining us. This is clearly a difficult time for everybody.

You're still waiting for news of your captured soldier. But do you really think that destroying power stations, bombing the offices of the ... and home of the Prime Minister ... Palestinian Prime Minister is a proper and proportionate response?

ZVI RAV-NER: Well we are not just talking about the kidnapped soldier. It's a culmination of a long series of terrorist attacks day in and day out from the Gaza Strip. After the withdrawal.. the full Israeli withdrawal to the 67 line last year, and there was no day without rockets being fired at the Israeli side of the border.

And on the top of it came this kidnapping of the soldier. We gave time, now a week, for the diplomatic negotiations to succeed, especially the Egyptians were trying their very best, but it seems to be that the orders, as the orders for the initiation of the kidnapping are coming from Damascus and they are blocking it.

Now in the meantime we are trying to do everything possible in order to prevent them from smuggling out the soldier from the Gaza Strip into Egypt.

ANDREW MARR: But for instance, destroying that power station removes all electricity from hundreds of thousands of people, many of them old or young and it puts them into a horrible situation for a very long time to come.

ZVI RAV-NER: Well there is indeed a pressure on them, even though we made it clear that we shall not let it turn into a humanitarian catastrophe and the border hasn't ... today it was reported that we have agreed to open the borders for humanitarian aid to be provided to the Palestinians.

Look, throughout the whole week and in spite of all the military action, take into account that there were no Palestinian casualties, in spite of all that activity ... military activity throughout the week, so we are exercising restraint as much as possible. At the same time we have to do everything in order to make them release.. there is a very simple solution to all that after all. If the Hamas government cares for the people so there's a very simple solution, to release the soldier immediately.

ANDREW MARR: We've just got some words said by your Prime Minister Mr Olmert very, very recently. He says: "I ordered the army and security forces to act with all of their might to pursue terrorists, their ideologists and those who offer them protection." Now what does that mean: "all of their might", what happens next? Does that mean ground troops go in, in large numbers now?

ZVI RAV-NER: I will not go here into the case of possible military operation indeed, but yes, yes, if the diplomatic negotiations are to fail, and at the moment there was no breakthrough whatsoever, it looks like a dead end, then yes, you may definitely expect a military action both to release the soldiers, as well to stop the firing of rockets day in and day out. Last month alone almost 180 rockets were fired on towns and kibbutzim on the Israeli side across the 67 line.

ANDREW MARR: But where does this stop because it appears to a lot of people that this is about crushing Hamas. Hamas MPs, Hamas ministers have been arrested and whatever you think about Hamas and their failure to accept the state of Israel and their failure to control some of their militants, they were elected by a rather large majority as the government of that part of your world and you have to deal with them eventually.

ZVI RAV-NER: Well they were fairly, democratically elected, that's true, but their manifesto and they subscribe to terrorism, it's a terrorist organisation who was elected democratically, a paradox maybe, which is ... does not intend to change so it seems and the document that they have sort of signed last week have not been fully signed by the way, is.. contains no recognition of the renunciation of terrorism, so seems to me that they are still subscribing to that terrorist ideology of theirs.

ANDREW MARR: And the way you're responding is surely bound to create more bitterness, more anger, and another cycle of violence?

ZVI RAV-NER: Look, you have to fight terror. I think we've given them quite a chance. It's now half a year since they were elected. We didn't go against them in the first place for many ... for several months nothing was done against them. But now it's the termination. We ... what you say, we tolerate but we suffered the ongoing, as I said, not only the soldiers, earlier last week a youngster was murdered straightaway, kidnapped stole away.

We know that they've been preparing this operation in Gaza for many, many months or weeks by digging that tunnel. So we've given a lot of time, and even last week for the whole week, in spite of what seems to be harsh measures, take into account there's no Palestinian casualties throughout that week, so we've given all the chance for diplomatic negotiations.

ANDREW MARR: We'll see what happens next. Meanwhile, thank you very much indeed for coming in and joining me.

INTERVIEW ENDS


NB: this transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy


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