More Gaza rockets were fired at Israel over the weekend, leading Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to issue a hypothetical but emphatic ultimatum. “We are dealing with the threat from Gaza, and if necessary we will carry out a major operation to defeat this terrorism once and for all,” said Netanyahu on Sunday in comments released by his office.
“They received a sample several weeks ago [in the last round of fighting]. I do not suggest that they wait for the next portion. It will come if they continue.”
The comments from Netanyahu come as Israel and Gaza have reportedly been discussing a long-term ceasefire with Egyptian mediation. The Jerusalem Post reported Egypt believes real progress to such a ceasefire has been made, while Hamas issued a statement demanding Israel take steps to improve the situation in Gaza, including lifting the Israeli blockade on the territory. Netanyahu has his own demands.
“There will be no arrangement if the firing does not stop for good,” said the Israeli leader. “If it does not stop for good, in the end there will be a decisive operation.”
So far, it hasn’t stopped. On Saturday, the IDF Twitter feed reported that three more rockets had been fired at Israeli civilians from Gaza. Two were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system.
In a follow-up tweet, the IDF noted their reaction to the attack: “3 rockets were fired from #Gaza at Israeli towns and cities earlier tonight. In response, IDF fighter jets & attack helicopters just struck a number of Hamas terror targets in Gaza.”
Jason Greenblatt, former United States envoy to the Middle East, on Twitter pointed the blame at the ongoing conflict at Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIC). “Egypt is working hard to keep ceasefire & General Abbas Kamel is doing everything he can, but ultimately it’s up to the terrorists Hamas/PIJ to help Gaza. Until then Israel will defend itself-as it should & Gaza will continue to suffer because of Hamas/PIJ.”
In separate comments to the Israeli cabinet on Sunday, Netanyahu said that if the Gaza attacks continue, “the terrorists in Gaza will yet feel blows from our arm.” “What they absorbed three weeks ago in Operation Black Belt, in which we targeted the leader of Islamic Jihad and dozens of militants from the organization, was just for starters,” said Netanyahu, referencing the November assassination of senior terror commander Abu Al-Ata.
“I have instructed the Defense Minister and the IDF to prepare accordingly. I will not go into details about our plans. We will continue to guard the security of Israel.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, December 8, 2019)