Paet: Israel Seeking to Critically Weaken Hamas ({{commentsTotal}})

The current Israeli military operation is likely to end when they are confident Hamas's military capability has suffered serious damage, said Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, commenting on the situation for ERR radio.

Over 500 people have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the military operation began two weeks ago - the overwhelming majority being Palestinian and only two of the deaths occurring among the Israeli civilian population - with no end in sight. The bloodiest day thus far was Monday.

“If you look at it from the Israeli point of view, it has been their position for years and decades that they have the right to protect the lives and health of their citizens, and their territory, including from Hamas rockets fired from the Gaza Strip,” Paet said on Monday. An average of 2 Israelis have been killed each year by rockets from Palestinian areas in the past 14 years.

Paet said the high number of civilian deaths tarnishes the image of Israel's military operation. "The ideal solution would be for violence to end and the parties to once again start holding political talks. Yet looking at the real situation in the region I deem the possibiity low of Israel starting to have dialogue with the Hamas wing."