Monday, May 24, 2021

Gantz: Israel Will Not Allow Full Reconstruction Of Gaza Until Hamas Returns Captive Soldiers

In Gaza conflict aftermath, Gantz calls for strengthening PA, sidelining Hamas

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Sunday that as Israel looks to stave off future rounds of conflict in the Gaza Strip, it should strive to strengthen the Palestinian Authority and direct Gaza reconstruction efforts through the PA, rather than Hamas, which rules the enclave.

However, Gantz said Israel would not permit a full reconstruction of Gaza until Hamas returns two Israeli civilians and the remains of two soldiers that have been held captive by the terror group for over six years.

“The most desirable change in my view is to strengthen the Palestinian Authority as much as possible, and not to let Hamas be the one that sets the agenda, not in the area of the Gaza Strip nor in Gaza itself,” he said.

Asked if that represented only his view or if it was also the opinion of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Gantz said it was the former.

“I don’t know what Netanyahu thinks,” he said.

Militarily, Gantz said the 11 days of fighting that end early Friday were successful at significantly weakening Hamas and its military capabilities. Going forward, he stressed the importance of responding more forcefully if and when Hamas or other terror groups in the Strip choose to again attack Israel, though the defense minister acknowledged that this would not necessarily mean retaliating for every single act of aggression. He also said the military should be prepared to initiate strikes against Hamas in some cases.

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