'No mercy for the weak in our tough neighborhood' - Knesset deputy

Israel wants to live in peace, but if attacked it is “more than prepared” to take all the necessary retaliatory steps, Knesset deputy Einat Wilf told RT. Hamas, not Israel, must disarm for there to be peace, she says.

­“If were asked to put down our arms, there would be no Israel. So we need to understand, these [Hamas] are the people we're dealing with, and we're asking for something simple – please stop attacking us and we will be more than happy to live side by side,” Wilf said.

RT: Are the airstrikes achieving what Israel hoped they would?

Einat Wilf: When Israel went into this operation, after more than 10 years of unprovoked attacks and shelling rockets on its civilians and its towns, it went through very limited measures. I’m sure you would find them quite basic. We want something very simple: we want Hamas to stop shelling our civilians and our towns and we want our people to be able to live normal lives without having to run to shelters every few minutes. We have not come out with any major aims for this operation, something very basic – stop attacking us. We're hoping that the operation will achieve its aims. Hopefully diplomacy will now be able to convince Hamas that they need to do so badly and if not we're more than prepared to take other steps.

RT: Not only are rocket attacks continuing, but now a bus bombing in Tel Aviv – the first in 6 years. Some suggest that the strikes and deaths in Gaza have put Israel under more threat?

EW: Certainly, the situation is difficult – just today there has been a terrible attack – directed directly against civilians, something that Israel never does – on our buses in the middle of Tel Aviv and we're still willing despite such ferocious attacks to engage in diplomacy to bring an end to this. It's quite remarkable that so many people, so many good-wiling people, are involved trying to bring an end to this, while I'm sure you know, especially with a lot of Russian support for the butchery that is taking place in Syria, the world is no longer paying attention. And I must say that I do hope that very quickly the world would go back to looking at what is happening in Syria and truly take care of the people that are suffering there.

RT: We've heard from your colleagues in the Israeli government that deterrence is a big part of this operation in Gaza. What message are you trying to send to Hamas using this strategy?

EW: A very simple message: stop attacking us. I'm sure your viewers would find it the most basic message ever. Our children, our families want to live in peace. We have nothing in Gaza; we're not there. We have left Gaza more than seven years ago, truly never to return. I do urge your viewers to open a map, I'm sure they will notice that Gaza has a direct uninterrupted border with Egypt. Some people are under the mistaken impression that Gaza is encircled by Israel. It has a direct border with Egypt; it can have a free life through its border with Egypt. We have nothing to do with Gaza. Just stop attacking us.

RT: Did the same tactic work last time in 2008, for instance? Do you believe force will get the results you want?

EW: Look, we live in a tough neighborhood – there's no mercy for the weak. You need to understand that at the end of the day Hamas is an organization that is ideologically committed to the idea that the Jewish people are not equal, that they do not have equal rights to have sovereignty and a state and self-determination in their homeland. They deny the historic connection between the Jewish people and Israel. They think that we should have no right to be here and to be sovereign and to be equal – this is their ideology. We can only hope for several years of quiet. We depend on in the area, where we're only weak, if we were to hand down our arms tomorrow, Israel would not exist. We say very simply – if Hamas were to put down its arms, there will be peace. If we were asked to put down our arms, there would be no Israel. So we need to understand, these are the people we're dealing with, and we're asking for something simple: please stop attacking us and we will be more than happy to live side by side.

RT: But the attacks have been called disproportionate.

EW: The response by all countries in the world has been defined not only as proportional. What Israel has been doing has not been done by any Western country, or even Russia, fighting. When these counties go for the attacks that are called surgical, the number of people that are uninvolved who die is in the scores much higher.

RT: But Israel targets the most populated areas in the world…

EW: But look at what we're spending our money on: we're spending our money on defending civilians, making sure they're safe and making sure that we do not hurt civilians when we go to war. What does Hamas spend their money on? They spend their money on rockets to attack civilians intentionally and directly and they cowardly hide behind children and civilians. When they're attacking us, they're hiding behind television crews, they're hiding behind journalists, they're breaking every possible rule of combat – and Israel is doing something unparalleled within the history of warfare in making sure that people that are not involved are not killed. The numbers are such that no country in history has ever been able to come close, and Israel has really been commended by all countries, not just having the right to defend its citizens, but also the fact that it's conducting itself in a way that is very proportional and very measured. And Israel is doing everything possible in impossible circumstances in the region where we're surrounded by people who believe that we're not equal.

RT: But most countries did call Israel’s attacks disproportionate…

EW: Hamas is hiding in those areas behind families, they're that, and we're doing everything in our power just to attack military targets and you can compare it to any other combat taking place – this is unheard of the way that Israel is conducting itself with the utmost care.