Minister Binyamin Netanyahu characterized the cross-border shooting of a Defense
Ministry employee on Tuesday as a “very grave incident” that Israel would not
let go unanswered.
This attack from Gaza, unlike the other terrorist
attacks this week, elicited a quick and immediate response from
“Our policy up until now has been to prevent beforehand and to
react with force, and this is how we will act now as well,” he
Government sources said the prime minister viewed this incident as
particularly serious, both within the context of the string of other attacks
this week – the foiled bus bomb in Bat Yam, the rocket fire from Gaza and the
knifing of a border policeman outside Jerusalem – and also because it was such a
clear violation of the understandings that brought an end to November 2012’s
Operation Pillar of Defense.
Israel clamped restrictions in the past on
Palestinians working inside the Gaza Strip, near the security fence, to prevent
exactly the type of sniper attack that killed an Israeli Defense Ministry worker
on Tuesday, government officials said.
Those restrictions were eased as
part of the understandings brokered by Egypt that brought an end to Operation
Pillar of Defense against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
According to those
understandings, Israel eased security restrictions on Gazans working close to
the security fence.
Netanyahu made his comments as he was about to fly
back to Jerusalem from Sderot, where he went to dedicate the new Tel Aviv-
Sderot train line.
Israel would not tolerate a “drizzle” of attacks from
Gaza, which would “turn into a storm,” he said.
Since Pillar of Defense,
the south has been quieter than it had been for more than a decade, the prime
minister said. “I am committed to maintaining that quiet, with a strong hand and
an outstretched arm. That is our policy.”
Netanyahu said that
there had recently been a “certain increase” in attempts to commit terrorist
“We are foiling them through the IDF, the Shin Bet (Israel
Security Agency) and security services, and through our aggressive policy,” he
President Shimon Peres spoke out about the escalation on Monday,
saying that Gazan terrorists were “playing with fire.”
“If Gaza wants
peace, it must behave quietly,” he said. “If not, it will suffer the results of
the unrest exponentially. Gaza is under no occupation,” he continued. “If
it thinks the world will continue to support it, and contribute to the death of
innocents, it is wrong... We will continue to ensure our
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said the attack “proves that
Hamas and its satellite organizations are determined to harm Israeli citizens,
without any connection to their religion or ideology.”
“The trickle of
attacks must stop and life near Gaza must be stable and safe,” Edelstein said,
sending his condolences to the victim’s family.
Opposition leader Isaac
Herzog (Labor) said he was certain the current wave of terror was meant to
sabotage peace talks with the PLO and the possibility of a two-state
“We will not give in to terror and will not let it win or
determine the State of Israel’s interests,” he said. “I trust that the IDF and
security forces will act against terror.”
Some on the Right did not share
Herzog’s determination to continue negotiating.
“The deterioration in
security shows once again that the Palestinians don’t want peace,” Deputy
Minister for Liaison with the Knesset Ofir Akunis (Likud Beytenu) said. “This is
a direct result of the Palestinian incitement against Israel.”
Finance Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) said the next
release of terrorists from prison, which is planned for next week, should be
canceled, calling it “absurd.”
“Day after day Israeli residents’ lives
are endangered and the government continues blindly giving in to the demands of
the Palestinian Authority and the Americans.
We should put an end to this
farce. As long as terror against Israel continues, we cannot release even one
terrorist,” Slomiansky said.
Concerned that “escalating violence” could
result in “another cycle of bloodshed,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned
on Tuesday against further retaliatory strikes by Israel against targets in the
Ban condemned “the killing of an Israeli civilian today as a result
of cross-border fire from Gaza, and the bus bombing near Tel Aviv on Sunday,”
his spokesman said.
“He also deplores the death of a young child in Gaza
from Israeli retaliatory raids today as well as a number of Palestinian civilian
casualties since Friday,” the spokesman said, adding that the secretary-general
hoped a two-state solution would end violence between Israel and the
Michael Wilner contributed to this report
from New York.