Last Updated: Tue Nov 02, 2010 18:03 pm (KSA) 15:03 pm (GMT)

Israeli FM says ready to cooperate on Gaza aid

Israel said it would allow humanitarian aid into the war-torn Gaza Strip
Israel said it would allow humanitarian aid into the war-torn Gaza Strip

Israel assured the European Union on Wednesday it would allow urgent supplies into the Gaza Strip even as Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak threatened new strikes against Hamas tunnels.

The EU said it hoped more humanitarian aid could get through to Gaza Strip after Israel assured the bloc it would fully cooperate on allowing urgent supplies through.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said after talks with EU officials in Brussels that crossings into Gaza were open for such humanitarian purposes and Israel was ready to cooperate "as far as needed" to ensure vital aid got through.

"I am happy to hear what the minister said," EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said after talks late on Wednesday. "I hope very much that will be reality tomorrow and that the lorries that are necessary to go in ... can enter into Gaza."

 I am happy to hear what the minister said. I hope very much that will be reality tomorrow and that the lorries that are necessary to go in ... can enter into Gaza, 
EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana

Israel and Hamas declared separate ceasefires on Sunday, raising prospects for more aid to be brought into the rubble-strewn enclave where thousands are homeless and supplies lacking after a devastating 22-day Israeli offensive during which most aid was unable to enter the Strip.

Livni said she had won an "understanding" during her two hours of talks with EU counterparts of the need to prevent smuggling of arms into Gaza from Egypt.

Threats of new attacks

 Above all, I trust more in our power of dissuasion than in anything else, and Hamas has learnt to its cost by suffering the hardest blows since its creation 
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak

Barak meantime warned that the Israeli army could launch new attacks against Hamas's network of arms smuggling tunnels below the Gaza-Egypt border.

"During the operation that we have carried out in the Gaza Strip we have destroyed 150 tunnels, including some which were targeted several times," he said on public television. "If we are forced to, there will be more attacks."

"Above all, I trust more in our power of dissuasion than in anything else, and Hamas has learnt to its cost by suffering the hardest blows since its creation," he said, hours after the Israeli army withdrew from the Gaza Strip.

"We have reached arrangements with the Egyptians (to stop smuggling through the tunnels), but imposing them will take a bit of time, I hope it will work," he said.

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