They did things which are unprecedented in the history even of terror. They made mosques into headquarters. They put in bombs in the kindergartens, in their own homes. They are hiding in hospitals. They are shooting endlessly for no reason, for no purpose, without any explanation and without any hope.
They are now beginning to feel the weight of their mistakes.
STEPHANOPOULOS: There is some confusion over the Israeli end game. The prime minister said the goal is not to crush Hamas, but the foreign minister told me, just the other day, that Hamas in power is a problem for Israel, and eventually they must be removed.
Other Israeli officials have said the same thing. Can there be a negotiated peace with Hamas, or must Hamas be removed?
PERES: We don't intend neither to occupy Gaza nor to crush Hamas, but to crush terror. And Hamas needs a real and serious lesson. They are now getting it.
We were careful. We restrained. We waited. We gave them many chances. At the beginning, they say, you occupied Gaza. But we left Gaza completely. We dismantled the settlements. There wasn't a single Israeli.
They cannot explain why are they shooting, what for are they shooting, and they cannot hide that they are acting by orders from Iran. Iran has two satellites in the Middle East, the Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.
They are serving a foreign country at the cost of their own security and lives of their own children and own people. STEPHANOPOULOS: You say you don't want to occupy Gaza, over the long term, but then how can you be sure that you will end the terror, that you will end the rocket firing on Israel?
And how will Gaza be governed?
Who can come in and offer some hope to the Palestinians who are living in Gaza and turn it into a functioning state?
PERES: Gaza is part of the Palestinian Authority. The present Hamas group revolted against their own authority. The head of the authority, the president of the Palestinian people, Mr. Abbas, was duly elected by 62 percent. They should come under the government of the Palestinian elected authority.
Anyway, we are not going to mix in in their politics, but we have decided not to permit to shoot against us. We have the means. Nobody else has the means. When they will stop terror, then we shall return to normal life.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Hamas was also elected in Gaza. Isn't -- won't it be a problem for Fatah leadership to come back or try to come back into power after an Israeli invasion? Won't they lose credibility with their own people?
PERES: Maybe, but that's not a reason to shoot at us. That's not a reason to kill our children. That's not a reason to have 80 or 90 missiles every day, for no reason (inaudible) civilian life. We cannot answer their questions, but we have to answer our own. Our government, with all due respect to public opinion, to pressures and so on, we have by law and by reason to defend our people, and nobody else has suggested how to do it otherwise.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Finally, sir...
PERES: And for that reason, the Arab world is -- I'm sorry. And for that reason, the public opinion even in the Arab world is divided, because they understand that there is a senseless bloodshed, initiated and conducted by the Hamas people.