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Livni vows to end Hamas rule if elected PM
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09:24, December 22, 2008

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Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Sunday that she would lead the government to topple the Hamas' regime in the Gaza Strip if elected prime minister in the February election, local media reported.

"The people of Israel are threatened, missiles are falling," she was quoted by the website of Jerusalem Post as saying to Kadima members. "I won't say what moves should be made. There is no calm in Hamas-controlled Gaza. Israel, and a government under my leadership, would topple Hamas in Gaza with military, economic and diplomatic means."

She vowed that "Israel must respond to restore its deterrence and stop the fire as long as it is fired upon," adding "that's what the government must do, and will do, under my leadership."

On Sunday morning, Palestinian militants fired 14 Qassam rockets and three mortar rounds into Israel, lightly injuring one person and damaging a private home.

The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad took responsibility for the attack.

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (R) and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni attend the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem Dec. 21, 2008. Livni said Sunday that she would lead the government to topple the Hamas' regime in the Gaza Strip if elected prime minister in the February election, local media reported.

In response to the rocket fire, an Israel Air Force aircraft launched a missile at a rocket launcher that had been primed and was ready to fire in northern Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The renewed violence comes in the wake of Hamas' official announcement that it would not extend its six-month truce with Israel which expired on Friday.

During the cabinet meeting on Sunday morning, Israeli outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert showed his restraint in dealing with rockets attacks, saying that "a responsible government neither runs to battle nor runs from it."

Meanwhile, it was reported that Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak met secretly last Thursday after receiving various security assessments, and decided to stage scaled responses to the continued rocket attacks.

"The scenarios are clear; the plans are clear; the determination is clear, and so are the ramifications of each of the steps," he said.

However, Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu blamed the Kadima-led government should be responsible for the situation in south.

"For three years, Kadima's ministers have been burying their heads in the sand. It's time to change that," he was quoted by the website of local daily Yedioth Ahronoth as saying during a tour in Sderot, a town in south Israel which is often under rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip.

The opposition leader claimed that Israel "has no choice but to topple Hamas' rule in the long run."

"Right now we have to go from passive response to active assault .We have a variety of options before we take the strip." he added.

The Likud, he concluded, will back any government decision to strike Gaza.


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