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MK Yatom: Exile or Indict Hamas Leadership

MK Ehud Yatom, a former high-ranking GSS official, said today that the Hamas leadership, including Sheikh Yassin, must either be expelled or put on trial.

First Publish: 9/2/2003, 11:57 AM

Israel must declare war on Hamas. This is the bottom line of MK Ehud Yatom's message in an interview with Arutz-7 this morning. Yatom is a former high-ranking GSS official who was nominated for the post of Anti-Terrorism Advisor to Prime Minister Sharon; the Supreme Court nullified the appointment because of Yatom's involvement in the #300 bus affair in which two terrorists were killed after being taken captive. He said today that the Hamas leadership, including Sheikh Yassin, must either be expelled or put on trial.

"Israel must conquer Gaza," Yatom said, "with the realization and preparedness for the likelihood that there will be armed resistance. We are familiar with the area and we know how to get in there; it's possible to do this, cautiously and sensitively, in order to prevent harm to innocent civilians as well as prevent unnecessary danger to soldiers. It should be done without haste, but it has to be done - in order to protect Ashkelon and neighboring communities and Gush Katif."

Yatom said that the terror organizations are increasing their strength, presenting a true threat to the State of Israel. "IDF forces left Lebanon, yet we are now under threat in many other places. No one will do the work for us; we have to do it ourselves."

Yesterday, IDF carried out its sixth targeted killing of Hamas terrorists in Gaza in the past two weeks, killing one and seriously wounding a second; some reports say he was killed. The two were involved in manufacturing, operating and transporting weapons and ammunition - an indication that Israel is targeting even second-line terrorists.

Gush Katif residents say that for the first time in a long while, they did not hear the sounds of mortar shells. Gaza Coast Regional Council spokesman Eran Sternberg expressed appreciation to the IDF for its spate of targeted killings of active terrorists, which "has dealt a severe blow to Hamas' operational abilities to terrorize us."

Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz told the Cabinet yesterday that the IDF is "ready for ground action in Gaza, [in response to] the Kassam rocket attacks towards Ashkelon." He said that a return to the Road Map appears "far off and not realistic, until the Arabs of the Palestinian Authority prove 'action.'"

Israeli forces have carried out six attacks against Hamas terrorists and their leaders in the past two weeks.