Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Sunday said that a truce constantly disturbed by rocket attacks was meaningless, while reiterating that her country should respond militarily to the continuous firing by Palestinian militants in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.
"As long as Hamas continues to operate with terror from Gaza, Israel will operate with its own means," local daily Ha'aretz quoted Livni as saying at a meeting with her visiting Austrian counterpart Michael Spindelegger. "It needs and must respond to terror through military means."
The strong contender for Israel's next premiership, who earlier this month urged the government to respond militarily, politically and economically to rocket attacks from the Palestinian enclave, made the latest remarks, together with a repeated call to topple Hamas, five days before the end of the first six-month phase of an Egypt-brokered truce between the Jewish state and Gaza militant groups, which has been rattled by resumed tit-for-tat attacks during the past five weeks.
Also on Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak dispatched an envoy to Cairo for efforts to maintain and extend the Gaza ceasefire, which had been generally honored for five months before recent flare-ups. Israeli officials have repeatedly voiced willingness to keep the truce in place as the country is heading for the Feb. 10 general election.
Meanwhile, leaders of the Islamist group, which celebrated its 21st anniversary on Sunday, made conflicting gestures on whether to renew the Gaza truce with Israel. A Hamas spokesman was quoted recently as saying that the group would renegotiate the terms before making a decision.