As thousands of Israeli soldiers continued to move into Gaza late Thursday, former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed her views on the intensifying situation on Charlie Rose's PBS show, saying she would “prefer” that Israel not invade the region.
Speaking to host and journalist Rose, Clinton described her role in negotiating the cease-fire that prevented an Israeli invasion of Gaza in 2012 and said she hopes Israel will avoid an invasion this time. “It’s not an easy question, because…I would prefer [that Israel not invade]. That’s why I flew from Cambodia to try to prevent an invasion last time.”
She added that an invasion could cause tensions in Gaza to escalate. “Hamas may feel like they’re totally cornered. They’ve got Egypt under [President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi] on one side. They’ve got Israel not willing to – and I don’t blame them at all – for suffering missiles. And so Hamas may feel like they have nothing to lose,” she said.
Working closely with former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Clinton succeeded in preventing a similar invasion of Gaza two years ago. However, she acknowledged on Thursday that there are “big differences” in the situation this time.
“Obviously the leadership of Egypt has changed. [Hamas'] stockpiling of weapons and more effective missiles and now even drones has changed. […] I think Israel’s assessment is that, with these stockpiles of weapons that are now in Gaza, that it would be difficult to get a reliable cease-fire,” she said.
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Meanwhile, Netanyahu said on Thursday that the Israeli military was preparing to “significantly widen” its incursion into Gaza. Thousands of Israeli soldiers, supported by tanks and aircraft, are already active in the region.
Israel asserts that a ground invasion is necessary to destroy a network of tunnels that Hamas has used to launch attacks against the Jewish state. “It is not possible to deal with the tunnels only from the air,” Netanyahu said.
“My instructions… are to prepare for the possibility of significantly widening the ground operation, and the military is preparing accordingly.”
At least 27 Palestinians have been killed since the ground invasion began Thursday, health officials in Gaza said, Reuters reports. Israel reported that one of its soldiers has been killed and several others have been wounded.
Hamas has vowed that Israel will “pay the price” for its invasion. “The ground invasion doesn’t frighten us and the occupation army will sink in Gaza’s mud,” Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said.