Sunday, May 23, 2021

Israel Threatens Preemptive Strikes Against Hamas

Minister: From now on, we’ll preemptively strike Hamas rocket activity

Likud’s Hanegbi says Israel will no longer wait for terror groups to fire before taking action, Netanyahu governments made ‘mistake’ by allowing Gaza rulers to bolster capabilities.

A senior Likud minister on Saturday said Israel would preemptively strike the Hamas terror group in Gaza when it becomes apparent it’s restocking its rocket arsenal and gearing up to fire at Israel, as he laid out what he described as the Jewish state’s new security doctrine vis-a-vis the coastal enclave following Operation Guardian of the Walls.

“We cannot wait for rocket fire [to respond in Gaza],” said Tzachi Hanegbi in an interview with Channel 13. From now on, he said, the terror groups’ rearmament and preparations to fire rockets, rather than the actual firing, “is cause for Israeli strike” on military targets in Gaza.

“This is a total change of the equation. We’ve never done this,” he said.

Hanegbi, a close ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, also lamented what he described as Israel’s mistaken approach to tackling the terror groups in Gaza in the past.

“The State of Israel has tolerated, over the years — during the decade of Netanyahu’s rule and also before — the strengthening of Hamas, and this was, without a doubt, a mistake,” he said, adding that Israel will rectify this with its new security policy.

Asked whether Israel would consider toppling the enclave’s Hamas regime, Hanegbi said Jerusalem views this “an option, but a last resort.” Though it could happen in the future, he said, it would incur a “high cost.”

He also doubled down on his prediction that this month’s military operation in Gaza would result in 15 years of quiet in the south.

Netanyahu vowed Friday that the latest round of fighting with Hamas, which ended with a Friday morning ceasefire, would see a much tougher Israeli stance adopted toward the terror group, and that any future rocket fire from Gaza would be met with “a whole new level of force.” He said Israel had achieved its military objectives in Gaza with “extraordinary” success.

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