BEIRUT

Middle East

Israel agreed Gaza truce to focus on jihadist threat: Netanyahu

A Palestinian child wrapped in the Hamas flag takes a picture during a rally by supporters of the Islamist movement in the West Bank city of Ramallah on August 30, 2014.(AFP/Abbas Momani)

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel agreed to a permanent truce in its 50-day Gaza war with Hamas in order to keep focused on the threat from regional militants.

"We fought for 50 days and we could have fought for 500 days, but we are in a situation where the Islamic State [ISIS] is at the gates of Jordan, Al-Qaeda is in the Golan and Hezbollah is at the border with Lebanon," Netanyahu said in an address on public television.

He was referring to ISIS jihadists in Syria and Iraq - both neighbors of Jordan - Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front Syria rebels on the Israeli-annexed Golan and Lebanon's Hezbollah.

"We decided not to get bogged down in Gaza, and we could have, but we decided to limit our objective and restore calm to Israeli citizens," Netanyahu added.

His remarks come as the United States, Israel's chief ally, is calling for a global coalition to fight the jihadists who have set up an Islamic "caliphate" in areas they have overrun in Syria and Iraq.

U.S. President Barack Obama has said he will send Secretary of State John Kerry to the Middle East to discuss the plan, which he said would involve military, diplomatic and regional efforts.

Calm returned to the Gaza Strip after a Tuesday cease-fire, a permanent truce ahead of further expected negotiations between Israel and the Hamas rulers of Gaza on a long-term peace deal.

 

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