Even as Egyptian-brokered cease-fire between Israel and Hamas held on Thursday,
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned that “we are ready to act should the
quiet be violated.”
Netanyahu, who met at the national police
headquarters with Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch and senior
Israeli police commanders, said he recognized that many in the country expected
a harsher Israeli response.
“We are prepared for this as well. Just as we
did during this operation, we will decide when and how to act, and against
whom,” he said.”
Now we are giving the cease-fire a chance. This is right
thing to do for the State of Israel at this time but we are also prepared for
the possibility that the cease-fire will not be upheld, and we will know how to
act if need be.”
Netanyahu’s comments came as Israel was preparing, as
called for in the agreement, to open the crossings with Gaza and facilitate the
transfer of goods.
Israeli government officials stressed that these
discussions would be held with the Egyptians, and not directly with Hamas. One
official said that since the Mavi Marmara episode in 2010, there has been a
gradual restriction of what goods are allowed in and out of Gaza. The further
easing of restrictions will now be done within the framework of talks with
Egypt, which the official said could be a tool to developing a healthy dialogue
with the new Egyptian government.
Among the goods that the official said
were likely to be discussed were so called “dual-use” items such as fertilizer
and metal tubes, which Israel kept out of the Gaza Strip in the past because
they could be used to make rockets.
Asked about the naval blockade of
Gaza, the official said that what was important from Israel’s point of view was
that weapons not be brought into the area.
“They had 11,000 rockets and
missiles last Wednesday when the operation began,” the official continued,
saying that the vast majority of that number was either destroyed by Israeli
attack or “fired off.”
“The point is how to prevent Hamas from
re-arming,” he said. “If they re-arm, they will take risks. If they have
weapons, they will use them.”
The official was unable to give any details
of how the US and Israel planned to battle arms smuggling into Gaza. Netanyahu
discussed this matter with US President Barack Obama Wednesday, and in the
cease-fire announcement he delivered to the country said they decided Jerusalem
and Washington “would work together to fight the smuggling of weapons to the
terror organizations – weapons, virtually all of which come from
Netanyahu, meanwhile, appointed his office’s director- general
Harel Locker to head a team of ministry directors-general to deal with problems
that arose from the fighting in the south, and to help with “problems of
financing, assistance and rehabilitation quickly and without bureaucracy.” The
first meeting was held Thursday night.