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Lieberman calls on Hamas to deal with Israel over captured soldiers

Avigdor Lieberman,, Israel's Defence Minister [U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr/Flickr]

Hamas must reach a "final agreement" with Israel over the issue of the Israeli soldiers who have been held by the movement's military wing, Al-Qassam Brigades, in the occupied Gaza Strip, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman demanded yesterday.

"The time has come for Hamas to reach a settlement deal with Israel on the bodies of the missing soldiers and civilians in Gaza," Lieberman said in an interview with a state-run website. He added that it is time for Hamas to "stop digging tunnels and producing rockets; time to consider the future of the children of Gaza."

The far-right minister expanded on his call to the Islamic Resistance Movement. "The moment Hamas stops building up its arsenals — and I've said this a number of times — we [Israel] will become the partners helping to turn Gaza into the Singapore of the Middle East." He promised "reconstruction in exchange for demilitarisation; that's the future of Gaza."

At least two industrial zones will be built by Israel near the border crossing with Gaza as soon as Hamas stops attacks against the Zionist state, the minister pledged. "Such projects will create at least 60,000 jobs."

Hamas: Israel 'desperate' to get information on captured soldiers

Speaking about the recent missiles that were fired from Gaza towards Israel, Lieberman held Islamic Jihad responsible. He claimed that the attack was carried out using Iranian-built rockets.

"Israel knows exactly which operatives were behind the launch," he warned. "We will do anything we have to do to stop this." He called upon the government in Gaza "to take control" of the situation.

"We encourage the authorities in Gaza to come to their senses and bring about order," Lieberman concluded. "In our view, there is only one address; the one that says it's the ruler of Gaza is also the one that will deal with the responsibility."

Last Friday, three mortar shells were fired from Gaza towards southern Israel, which were reported to have fallen on a ceremony that was held to mark the birthday of Oron Shaul, the Israeli soldier who was held by Hamas in the enclave before he died during the 2014 Israeli war against Gaza.

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