Israel will continue using force to thwart planned attacks, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pledged on Sunday, a day after a counterterrorism raid in Jenin led to the death of three Palestinians and sparked rioting.
Netanyahu praised the security forces at the weekly cabinet meeting for the raid in Jenin on Shabbat that killed wanted Hamas member Hamza Abu Aleija.
“Over the weekend, our forces struck at a terrorist who had organized attacks on Israelis and was also planning attacks on innocent civilians,” the prime minister said. “I would like to commend the anti-terrorism unit, the IDF units involved, including the ultra-Orthodox [Netzah Yehuda] Battalion, and the ISA [Shin Bet] for carrying out a very important operation in eliminating someone who endangered Israeli citizens.
Our policy is to attack those who attack us and who are planning to attack us. Both were applicable in this case.”
This is the third time in a little over a week that Netanyahu has talked about Israel’s policy of attacking those who attack it. He said the same thing following the escalation in rocket fire from Gaza some 10 days ago, and following last week’s attack on an IDF jeep patrolling on the Golan Heights.
In addition to Abu Aleija, two other Palestinians were shot dead in the gun battle that erupted during the counterterrorism raid in Jenin early on Saturday. AFP identified one man as Mahmoud Abu Zena, of Islamic Jihad, and a civilian identified as Yazan Jabarin.
According to the army, Abu Aleija planned to carry out a campaign of shooting attacks on Israeli civilians and military targets after receiving instructions to do so from Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The IDF is on standby in the West Bank for the possibility of an increase in disturbances in the coming days.
Netanyahu also praised the IDF for its recent discovery of a massive tunnel from the southern Gaza Strip into Israel. Calling this a “Hamas attack tunnel,” the prime minister said this showed the importance of strict security arrangements under any future agreement with the PLO , and “even without a future agreement.”
The army announced on Friday that it had discovered the tunnel.
“The IDF sees the tunnel as an attack on Israeli sovereignty and a clear violation of agreements reached in Operation Pillar of Defense [of 2012],” the army said. Hamas bore responsibility for the tunnel, it said.
Hamas denied the IDF’s claim, saying the army had unearthed an old passage dug by Islamic Jihad. Security sources said the tunnel was the largest the military had found to date.
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.