Netanyahu: Israel prepared to intensify operations in Gaza


PM’s comment follow barrage of 13 Gaza rockets over the weekend, resulting in a massive damage and fire in Sderot

• Lieberman recommends retaking the  Gaza Strip
• 2 Gaza terrorists assassinated in IAF pinpoint airstrike in response to escalating rocket fire

By Lilach Shoval, Daniel Siryoti, Reuters, The Associated Press & Israel Hayom Staff


“We are prepared to widen our operation in Gaza, should the need arise,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday following multiple rocket salvos from Gaza into Israel over the weekend.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday – Photo: Marc Israel Sellem

“The IDF bombed a large number of targets [in Gaza] over the weekend in response to rocket fire into Israel,” Netanyahu told the cabinet ministers at their weekly meeting. “I want to remind you that from the moment the Palestinian unity government was established in collusion with the terror group Hamas, the Palestinian Authority essentially assumed the responsibility of preventing rocket fire into our territory from Gaza.”

Netanyahu went on to quote Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ condemnation of the abduction of three Israeli teens two weeks ago, adding that “he says he wants to walk in the path of peace. If he means it, there is only one way for him to advance peace, and that is to dissolve his deal with Hamas.”

Taking the sentiment a step further, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Sunday that given the security escalation in the south, Israel should seriously consider reseizing control of the Gaza Strip.

“We have to decide whether fully conquering the Strip is a viable alternative,” Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman says – Photo: Yoav Ari Dudkevitch

“We have to decide whether fully conquering the Strip is a viable alternative,” he told Army Radio. “We can see that a limited [military] operation only makes Hamas stronger, so the alternative is clear. There is no middle ground.”

Lieberman’s remarks followed a tense weekend in southern Israel, where the security situation has been steadily deteriorating, despite the relative downscaling of Operation Brother’s Keeper across Judea and Samaria.

Some 30 rockets have been fired at southern Israel since the onset of the operation meant to rescue abducted Israeli teens Gil-ad Shaer, Eyal Yifrach and Naftali Frenkel, who have been missing since June 12.

“The Gaza Strip is like a powder keg — it could blow up at any moment,” a senior defense official said on Saturday.

Palestinian terrorists in Gaza fired 13 rockets at Israel over the weekend. One rocket struck a paint factory in Sderot, engulfing the facility in flames. Magen David Adom emergency services treated four people for light injuries and smoke inhalation, and evacuated them to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon for further medical treatment.

The fire at the Sderot plant that was hit by a rocket on Saturday night

Police spokesman Chief Insp. Micky Rosenfeld confirmed that the facility, located in Sderot’s industrial zone, was severely damaged.

The Israeli Air Force struck 12 terror targets in the Gaza Strip overnight Saturday, including Hamas warehouses, Hamas and Islamic Jihad posts, and several rocket caches in Gaza City, Khan Younis and Rafah.

Saturday night’s strikes in Gaza was preceded by similar strikes on Friday night, in which the IAF targeted two terror sites and a weapons mill in central Gaza Strip, as well as a weapons cache in southern Gaza.

Given the deteriorating security situation, MDA Director-General Eli Bin on Saturday raised the organization’s alert level in the Lachish and Negev districts, placing it on B — MDA’s second-highest alert level. He stressed that at this time, the move was meant only as a precautionary measure.

Palestinians gather around wreckage after an airstrike in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City on Friday – Photo: AP

An Israeli airstrike killed two Palestinian terrorists on Friday afternoon in the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City. The IDF identified the two as Osama al-Hasumi and Mohamad al-Fassih, members of the Popular Resistance Committees, who Israeli military sources said were plotting terror attacks against Israeli targets.

The strike followed a security incident in which explosives were used against IDF forces patrolling the Israel-Gaza Strip border. No injuries were reported among the troops. IDF tanks fired at suspected terror targets in response.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon confirmed the strike on the two PRC members.

“Aircraft killed terror operatives in Gaza who had been responsible for recent rocket attacks on southern Israel and were planning more terror attacks on Israeli citizens,” he said in a statement.

Ya’alon spoke with Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi on Saturday, and told him Israel “will not tolerate any attempt by Gaza terror groups to disrupt the daily lives of the southern residents, or threaten civilians or security forces in any way.

“We’ll keep acting with a firm hand against those how seek to harm is. We hold Hamas responsible for the Gaza Strip and I advise them not to test our resolve,” Ya’alon said.


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