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Israeli Barak: counter-terror operations to continue

By Xinhua

Jerusalem : Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday that counter-terror operations in Gaza would continue, local media reported.

Barak made the remarks during a meeting with European Union’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana, according to the website of local daily Jerusalem Post.

Hamas was dealt “a heavy blow” in the recent Israeli army’s activity, he added.

The defense minister stressed that the ultimate goal of the operation was to restore calm to the residents of southern Israel. “We will achieve this,” he pledged, and added that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) would come out on top in the continuing military campaign.

Solana said that the political process was “essential,” and expressed hope for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

Early Monday morning, IDF withdrew its ground troops from the Gaza Strip, completing a five-day-long offensive in which more than 100 Palestinians were killed.

Solana called for Israel to leave a window of opportunity open for the peace process.”

“I know this sounds a bit optimistic considering the events of the past few days,” he said after his meeting with senior Israel officials.