Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman speaks in Tel Aviv.
(photo credit: ARIEL HERMONI / DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Hamas would pay for its recent attacks against Israel, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Tuesday on a visit to Gaza border area just days after four soldiers were wounded by a bomb attached to the security fence.
“It is clear that Hamas was behind the event, which obviously has consequences and implications,” said Liberman, who will be speaking at the Jerusalem Post Conference in New York on April 29.
“It must be understood that poverty and terrorism go hand in hand. Hamas is preventing economic growth in Gaza. They can only recruit terrorists and suicide bombers via poverty and despair so Hamas is doing all it can to maintain poverty and despair.”
The four soldiers were wounded – two of them seriously – when a bomb hidden inside the pole assembly of a Palestinian flag that had been attached to the border fence following Friday protests exploded as the troops came to neutralize it.
Calling the attack “a severe terrorist attack that has the potential to destabilize the region,” the army said the demonstrations have been getting more violent in recent weeks, with protesters bringing firearms and grenades to use against IDF troops on the other side of the fence.
“Hamas is using Gaza residents as ammunition,” Liberman said. “Hamas knows the price these civilians must pay when the terrorist group uses them to carry out terrorist attacks, as they participate in the riots Hamas is organizing on the border. There are implications to the attacks Hamas carries out.”
Following his briefing the defense minister visited three of the wounded soldiers at Beersheba’s Soroka-University Medical Center, where he told them that he was proud of them and vowed to find those responsible for the attack.
The fourth soldier has been transferred to Hadassah-University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem where his father works.
“I came to you straight from a visit to the Gaza perimeter, where I received security reviews on the incident and its ramifications,” he said, adding that “the IDF will close the account with the perpetrators and their dispatchers.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was also in the South on Tuesday, said that while Israel has “no desire to harm the daily routine” of the residents of the Gaza Strip, “they must know that it is not Israel which is responsible for their plight, it is the extremists leading Gaza who are completely responsible.”
Israel, he said, will not “ignore the attempts to violate our sovereignty or harm our soldiers and residents and we have proven this time and again. Any act of aggression by the terrorist elements will meet with a strong and determined response on our part, by the IDF and the security sources. We will not accept a drizzle [of rockets] or bombs on the fence such as we saw last weekend.”
“While Israel builds and fortifies hospitals, its enemies in Gaza are building terrorist-tunnels and missiles,” Netanyahu said at the opening of a new fortified emergency room in Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center, well within Hamas’s missile range from Gaza.
Netanyahu said that the facility is being fortified because ensuring the security of the public is the first obligation of any government. With that, he said, “Defensive actions do not obviate the need for offensive action when it is necessary.”