The near-daily rocket fire at southern communities from Gaza for the past two weeks was the “price” we had to pay for US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Tuesday.
“It was clear to us that there would be a price to pay for Trump’s declaration to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but it’s a price we are willing to pay. We are ready to pay the whole price,” Liberman told reporters after meeting with mayors and regional council leaders from the communities surrounding the Hamas-run enclave.
“What’s important now is to strengthen the issue of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is not up for negotiation or for division,” he added.
Following Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem, riots broke across the West Bank, Jerusalem and along the Gaza border. Close to two dozen rockets have also been launched toward southern Israel, with several being intercepted, including one over Ashkelon, some 20 kilometers from Gaza, and several more slamming into Israeli territory.
While Hamas is not thought to be behind the rocket fire, the IDF holds Hamas responsible for everything that happens in Gaza.
In response, Israeli fighter jets, combat helicopters and tanks have struck over 40 Hamas targets since December 7, including observation posts, military compounds, weapons depots and weapons production sites.
“Over the past 18 months the IDF has acted with force and determination in the south and in the north like never before,” Liberman said. “I think that our activity regarding the tunnels, our work against terrorism [and] the beatings Hamas has received are a clear and important message to everyone.”
According to Liberman, Hamas has gotten the message that rocket fire will not be tolerated and that it will soon stop, telling reporters that “the drizzle is not continuing.
We’ve already had one day of total quiet.”
“Israel is more prepared than it has ever been... as we have seen in the last two days, Hamas has also gotten the message. We have witnessed dozens of Salafist activists rounded up by Hamas. In my opinion, after the interrogations they will experience, none of them will return,” he added.
The defense minister, who last week urged Gaza border residents to remain calm, commended them on Tuesday for their resilience over the past two weeks, and blamed the opposition and the media for causing panic.
“I’m amazed by the optimism and the high spirits. You can’t help but smile after meeting with the residents here and appreciating their depth of perseverance, understanding and support for the defense establishment.”
“We know what to do, how to do it and, most important, when to take action,” he continued.
“What’s important now is to bolster the Jerusalem issue.”