Weapons smuggling into Gaza is undermining efforts to establish a durable cease-fire between Israel and militants in Gaza. That’s why the United States welcomes the March 13th initiative of 9 countries to help stop the flow of weapons to Hamas and other militants in the territory.
Countries participating in this effort include the U.S., Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Norway. All have agreed to support a program of action including a range of measures to interdict smuggling of weapons shipments to Gaza. This initiative provides a comprehensive platform for enhanced cooperation and coordination in the areas of information and intelligence sharing; diplomatic engagement; and military and law enforcement activities.
It is critical that the trafficking of weapons to Gaza be stopped if a lasting cease-fire is to be established. Rockets supplied to Hamas militants have been launched across the border from Gaza into Israel, where border towns have been subjected to repeated attack. It was these rocket bombardments that led to the recent bloody fighting in the area.
The U.S. and other participating countries hope to prevent another round of warfare, in part by cutting off the arms flow. Iran is a major supplier of weapons to Hamas militants and other extremist groups in the Middle East, in spite of U.N. Security Council resolutions banning Iran from exporting such munitions.
A durable ceasefire in Gaza is critical to achieving a comprehensive peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Through his commitment to negotiations, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is offering the Palestinian people the option of a peaceful, independent, and more prosperous future, not the violent rocket attacks of Hamas extremists. Such tactics, said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, only will lead to more hardship and suffering.
Working with its partners, the United States is committed to blocking arms shipments to Gaza, which constitute a threat to regional peace and security and put innocent lives of Israelis and Palestinians at risk.