Tuesday, February 11, 2020

'Hamas aggression may leave Israel no choice but to mount deadly response' - Ariel Kahana , Gadi Golan , Israel Hayom Staff

by Ariel Kahana , Gadi Golan , Israel Hayom Staff 

IDF strikes Hamas targets in the Strip following rocket fire on southern communities. "Israel has no interest in waging war against Hamas in Gaza but we are first and foremost committed to the safety and security of the residents of the Gaza vicinity communities," says Defense Minister Naftali Bennett.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett warned Sunday that the security escalation on the Israel-Gaza Strip Border may leave Israel no choice but to mount what he called a "deadly response" against the terrorist groups in the coastal enclave.

Recent days have seen an increase in rocket fire on southern Israel, as well as in what has come to be known as "balloon terrorism," as part of which Gaza terrorists send balloons carrying explosives over the border into Israel. 

IDF warplanes struck several Hamas sites in Gaza after midnight Sunday, following rocket fire at Israeli communities near the volatile frontier.

The military said aircraft bombed several targets including "a training camp and military infrastructure."

Palestinian media reported the IAF hit a site near Khan Younis, in southern Gaza, and a Hamas base in Deir el Balah, in central Gaza.

"Israel has no interest in waging war against Hamas in Gaza but we are first and foremost committed to the safety and security of the residents of the Gaza vicinity communities," Bennett, who on Sunday visited the Gaza Division, said.

"The aggression shown by Hamas' leadership may leave Israel no choice be to mount a deadly response. We will not say when or where," he stated.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a similar statement, saying: "We will not accept any aggression from Gaza. Only a few weeks ago, we targeted the senior Islamic Jihad commander in Gaza, and I suggest that both Islamic Jihad and Hamas refresh their memories. I will not go into detail about all of our actions and plans for the media, but we are prepared to take devastating action against the terrorist organizations in Gaza. Our actions are very strong and they have not yet ended, to put it mildly."

At Netanyahu's request, the cabinet approved Sunday the appropriation of 35 million shekels for security and civilian resiliency components in Ashkelon.

"In the framework of this plan, we will work to immediately refit hundreds of public shelters in the city. We will also expand support treatments for children and we will bring smart systems and special equipment for emergencies," the prime minister said.

On Saturday, Bennett said that the best way to weaken Hamas was to focus on weakening Iran, which he called "the head of the octopus."

Speaking at a campaign event in the Tel Aviv suburb of Givat Shmuel, the Yamina party leader said Israel was stepping up its actions against Tehran, though stressing that this did not mean all-out war.

"We are in the process of switching to hurting the head of the octopus – Iran's power. I am not necessarily talking about a full-blown war with Iran tomorrow; it is more similar to the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, with the two regional powers Israel and Iran," he said.

Israel would now target all Iranian weapons shipments to Hezbollah instead of one in five as previously, said Bennett, adding that Israel and America had agreed that Israel would target Iran in Syria while the United States fought it in Iraq.

Syria, said Bennett, was "a bad place for Iran to be," adding that Israel aims to turn the country into "their Vietnam."

With regard to the Gaza Strip, Bennett said that he personally approves Israeli strikes on Gaza targets in response to the continued onslaught of airborne incendiary devices and rockets and that the targets "are not [empty] hills. The targets are machines producing rockets, rocket factories, parts of [cross-border] tunnels. These days we are slowing their rocket production."

He added that he was crafting a plan for a major military operation, from which "nobody in the Hamas leadership will be immune." However, he added that his aim was not to send troops into the Gaza Strip, as this would be "playing on their home turf." Rather, the goal should be "relocating the game to our home turf" by weakening Iran.

Ariel Kahana , Gadi Golan , Israel Hayom Staff

Source: https://www.israelhayom.com/2020/02/10/hamas-aggression-may-leave-israel-no-choice-be-to-opt-for-deadly-response/

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