Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas must dismantle terror groups in Gaza, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said the day after the IAF executed a limited strike on the strip, killing a global jihad-affiliated terrorist.
The joint military operation with the IAF and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) was a direct response to a Gaza-launched rocket attack Wednesday that narrowly missed a major traffic artery in the South, landing harmlessly in a field.
On Thursday, Abbas condemned the IAF strike and accused Israel of attempting to ignite regional violence.
“We hold Israel responsible for this escalation, which we consider an attempt to exacerbate the situation and pull the region into violence,” according to a statement his office published on WAFA.
It called upon Israel to stop this “grave escalation.”
But Netanyahu, in turn, charged that Abbas’s failure to dismantle terror groups had led to the initial attack and promised to continue to retaliate against such attacks.
He spoke about the attacks and terrorism when he met on Thursday with former mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa, who is visiting Israel.
“You know that we are fighting terrorism. Our policy is simple – we will strike at those who would strike at us,” Netanyahu said.
The Gaza-launched rocket that hit the Eshkol region along Israel’s southern border was the first such attack since the unity government jointly sponsored by Fatah and Hamas was sworn into office last week.
Israel has objected to the unity government and now holds Abbas responsible for Hamas’s actions.
Netanyahu told Villaraigosa, “I remind everyone that this [Wednesday’s rocket attack] is the true face of Hamas, even as it is part of the same unity government with Abu Mazen [Abbas]. “Abu Mazen has promised to honor all of the PA’s commitments. Among these he has promised to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza so that people like those we struck yesterday will not act against us. This is his commitment; we expect him to uphold it,” Netanyahu said.
In Wednesday night’s IAF strike against Gaza, Israel targeted and killed from the air Mahmed Awwar, 33, of Beit Lahiya.
The IDF charged that Awwar had been involved in many past rocket attacks against Israel, particularly in the last few months while he worked as a policeman for Hamas.
It noted in particular that Awwar had participated in a rocket attack on April 21, during Passover, which had targeted Sderot.
“This terror infrastructure is a violent and extremist Salafi cell which has carried out several rocket attacks and has attempted to implement diverse terror attacks against Israel as well as attempts to target a helicopter.
“The preemptive strike was intended to prevent Awwar from executing further attacks he had planned against Israel,” the IDF said.