Sha'ar Hanegev regional council chief Alon Shuster..
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Hamas and Islamic Jihad operatives who have been firing rockets and mortars into Israel for over a decade have “succeeded in their mission” of terrorizing civilians, the head of the Sha’ar Hanegev regional council said on Saturday.
“In the last 13 years, until this past summer, there has been steady growth and a growing population in all of the towns near the Gaza border,” the council chief, Alon Shuster, told a town hall meeting in Holon on Saturday.
“The discovery of the tunnels this past summer during Operation Protective Edge, when we saw 13 Hamas men coming out from underground, created a crack in the mental fortitude of the residents,” he said.
“The terrorist groups have succeeded in their mission of threatening [us] and sowing fear and terror,” Shuster said. “The threat of tunnels hit home and took on a more noticeable form, and the sense is that our ability to withstand this threat has been exhausted.”
“I am hopeful that the government, which handled Operation Protective Edge with moderation and wisdom, will do well enough to understand that it should also wage a diplomatic campaign in the same manner,” Shuster said. “As of now, it isn’t doing what needs to be done in this area.”
“Our mission now is to do our utmost in making sure that the residents of the Gaza frontier towns get what they deserve, and that is a normal life,” he said.
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Danny Rothschild, the former coordinator of government activities in the territories, told the Holon town hall meeting on Saturday that “if I were in the place of the municipality heads in the South, I’d be worried.”
“While Hamas may have been dealt a very strong blow, in practice there are no signs that Gaza will be rehabilitated anytime soon,” he said. “Money isn’t flowing in, the crossings haven’t been opened, and the Egyptians are abusing [Hamas].”
“The only means they have of attracting attention to their plight is by firing missiles and mortars,” Rothschild said. “Israel needs to take this into account in the coming weeks.”
When asked whether Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is capable of restoring Fatah rule over Gaza, Rothschild said: “Gaza is saturated by Hamas.”
“Hamas has taken control of UNRWA, and the residents of Gaza receive food, money, and health care [from Hamas],” he said.
“Hamas is not ready to talk to [Israel],” Rothschild said. “Its ideology is both religious and nationalistic. The first clause of its charter advocates for the destruction of Israel. But if Fatah can change its charter, so can Hamas.”