Two principles guide policy regarding rocket fire from Gaza, Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday: killing those trying to attack Israelis
before they can carry out their plans, and – failing that – killing the
One government source said there has been no change
in retaliatory policy toward rocket fire from Gaza as a result of the Gilad
Schalit swap, and that since Jerusalem did not hold back from military action
against Gaza when the captive soldier was being held by Hamas, his release did
not trigger a reassessment of policy.
“We were never restrained in our
response because of Schalit,” the source said. “There was never a connection
between the two.”
The source said the policy Netanyahu articulated at the
cabinet meeting was that if Israel saw people about to fire rockets or preparing
an attack, it would act to eliminate that threat. And if the attack was carried
out anyhow, those who were responsible would not be immune from an Israeli
The prime minister told the weekly cabinet meeting, held this
time in Safed to mark the opening of a new medical school there, that both these
principles came together a day earlier in Gaza. According to Netanyahu, the IDF
knocked out one cell in a preemptive attack, and when this triggered the firing
of numerous rockets at Israel, Israel went after the cell responsible for that
rocket fire as well.
Netanyahu said he would not advise anyone “to test
our determination to implement these two principles.”
“We are not
engaging in rhetoric or looking for an escalation, but will protect ourselves
according to these principles,” he said.
Netanyahu stressed that Hamas,
which is in control of Gaza, “is responsible for keeping the quiet and
preventing fire from Gaza, even if those who carry it out are Islamic Jihad
President Shimon Peres, who also participated in the special
cabinet session in Safed, said that while Hamas was trying to undermine Israel’s
existence, it was actually undermining its own.
“Terrorism does not allow
the citizens of Gaza to have a normal existence,” he said. “Hamas claims that it
controls Gaza, and therefore it has direct responsibility for what goes on
there. The writing is clearly on the wall, and they are the ones who will bear
the difficult consequences of their actions.”
Turning to the
Palestinians, Peres said, “Neither you or we want war.
But the Gaza
missiles are a declaration of war.”