By He Shan
China.org.cn staff reporter
As the assault on the Gaza Strip continued for the 17th day of Israel's war against Hamas, Israel's ambassador in Beijing, Amos Nadai, reiterated at a news conference on January 12 that Israel is willing to accept a ceasefire arrangement, but only on condition that the military capabilities of Hamas are removed and the safety of Israelis living in southern Israel is guaranteed.
Since the military operation that began on December 25, there has been an obvious decline in the number of rockets launched by Hamas. [China.org.cn]
Mr. Nadai stressed that Israel has never changed the goal of its military operation. "The goal is to eliminate the military capabilities of Hamas, and to prevent them from launching any further threat to the safety of our civilians. The goal is to create the circumstances under which our people in the south are able to live in peace and security."
About 15 percent of Israeli people are now within range of Hamas rockets. Israel has called in air force, navy, and ground forces together in pursuit of its ultimate goal that the Israeli people will no longer be harassed by Hamas.
But he added that Israel is conducting the operation in a way that tries to minimize the losses on both sides.
Mr. Nadai spoke highly of Egypt's efforts to promote an Israeli-Palestinian truce: "As one of the most important Arab countries, Egypt has worked very hard to re-establish the ceasefire arrangement and we have had very serious discussions together."
But he emphasized that it is pointless to propose a ceasefire at this stage, because "Hamas are still there and there is no sustainable arrangement to prevent them from restarting bombing and shelling our civilians."
Mr. Nadai still hoped that both sides have the will to find ways and means to improve the situation.
The ambassador regretted that the UN resolution to end the war did not work out, while expressing understanding of the US abstention in the vote.
"Israel and the U.S. enjoy a very special relationship. As you know, Israel lives in a very dangerous neighborhood and the U.S. is the only power to come to the assistance of Israel when it is under attack," he said of the rapport between the two nations. "Israel has several times in the past faced the prospect of extinction, and the U.S. was the only country to come to our aid."
As the fierce fighting continues in the Gaza Strip, China has sent a special envoy to the Middle East to play a mediation role. According to the ambassador, the special envoy, Sun Bigan, will arrive in Egypt on Tuesday for a two-day visit. His mission will include meeting with the Israeli foreign minister.
"Sun is a courageous and experienced person," said the ambassador. "I suggest that he should meet our defense minister to get a first-hand picture of what is happening on the ground."
(China.org.cn January 13, 2009)