Tuesday, February 7, 2017

After Gaza Flare-Up, Ministers Hear War Drums As Army Seeks Return To Calm

Two Israeli ministers said another war in Gaza is on Israel’s horizon on Tuesday, following a tense day of IDF air and tank strikes in response to a rocket attack from the Strip on Monday morning, but the army stressed it had no interest in further conflict on the southern front.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett said Tuesday that a war was “a matter of when, not if.”

“In Gaza, they are continuing to threaten us and try to harm us,” Bennett said at a ceremony in southern Israel commemorating the death of an Israeli student killed by Hamas rocket fire in 2005.

“Only with a total victory over our enemy will we put an end to this,” Bennett added.

In a Tuesday morning interview on Army Radio, Housing Minister Yoav Galant, a former general, also said there was a chance of escalation and conflict with the Hamas terrorist group later this year.

“The [current] reality, in my assessment, might lead to a situation in which Hamas is drawn to escalation in the spring or the summer,” said Galant, a former head of the army’s Southern Command.

Galant’s predictions have not always been accurate. In April 2016, in another Army Radio interview, the minister predicted a war in Gaza that summer as well, but no such conflict occurred.

The IDF, meanwhile, has sought to calm some of the tensions surrounding the Gaza Strip.
“We have no interest in an escalation of violence, but are determined to fulfill our obligation and protect the people of Israel from attacks originating in Gaza,” army spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told The Times of Israel.
“The strikes yesterday against Hamas’ positions were a clear message that it is responsible for the attacks against Israel and will be held accountable,” he added.
In response to the IDF strikes, the Hamas terrorist group said Monday it holds Israel “fully” responsible for any fallout or escalation in hostilities between the two sides.

Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem also called on regional and international authorities to curb Israel’s “aggression.”
On Monday morning, a rocket was fired from northern Gaza at Israel, striking an open field south of the city of Ashkelon. Later in the day, an IDF patrol was also fired upon near the security fence surrounding the coastal enclave. No Israelis were injured in the attacks.
The army said its strikes were in response not only to Monday’s rocket attack and gunfire, but also to “other incidents from Gaza in the last month.” This was a reference to smaller-scale incidents that have occurred along the security fence surrounding the Strip.

In recent months, the IDF — under the direction of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman — has adopted a harsher policy toward the sporadic rocket fire.

The hawkish Liberman has promised that Israel will respond aggressively to rocket attacks in order to force Hamas to rein in the more extreme groups in the Gaza Strip.

While his predecessor’s administration would likely have come out with a quick and sharply critical response to Israel’s passing of a law which retroactively legalizes about 4,000 “settler outposts” in Judea and Samaria, President Donald Trump’s State Department remained silent after the news broke Monday night, refusing to condemn the move.

The Regulation Law has been the subject of contention and controversy in Israel, with left-wing politicians threatening that it could lead to an indictment in the International Criminal Court. The law protects thousands of existing Jewish homes in the Biblical heartland which were built with government backing but now face absentee land claims from Palestinian “owners.”

In response to the bill’s passage in the Knesset by a vote of 60-52, a US State Department official told AFP that the Trump administration was “withholding comment” until the legislation is reviewed within Israel.

While last week the White House, which is expected to be lenient, if not supportive, in regards to Israel’s settlement construction, said that expanding existing settlements “may not be helpful” for future peace efforts, its decision not to speak against the latest development signals a sea change in how the new administration views Israeli settlements.
The administration would reserve judgement until it “has the chance to fully consult with all parties on the way forward,” the official said.

1 comment:

Caver said...

Lots of otherwise in-explainable positions become common sense once you find the common thread. In this case, there are at least 12 Rinos / NeoCons on the Soros payroll.

Republicans backed by Soros....the very names associate with open or suspected RINO /Neocon actions...

John Kasich, Paul Ryan, Lindsey Graham, John McCain, at least 8 more