Prime Minister Netanyahu, Tzachi Braverman, and Yisrael Katz at security cabinet meeting.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Ministers in the security cabinet said on Wednesday that they were not aware of any Egyptian-brokered cease-fire agreement between Israel and terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett slept overnight at the home of a family in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, close to the Gaza border, to show solidarity with residents. He said he was woken up by sirens five or six times throughout the night and went to a bomb shelter.
“We haven’t reached an agreement with Hamas, not even an informal agreement,” Bennett said outside a school he visited. “We will act according to Israel’s interests. What the other side decides will determine its fate.”
Netanyahu did not convene the security cabinet on Tuesday night, in order to avoid conveying a message that Israel was interested in an escalation. He did, however, meet with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Intelligence Services Minister Israel Katz.
“Everything will depend on Hamas,” Katz said in an interview with Israel Radio, in which he denied that Israel had reached a cease-fire agreement.
But Energy, Water and National Infrastructure Minister Yuval Steinitz appeared to confirm that there was a cease-fire, also speaking in an Israel Radio interview.
“I estimate that there are indirect understandings with Hamas to end the current round of violence,” he said. “I thinks a certain level of conflict on the Gaza border will remain, but I hope that there will not be a need for a full military operation to conquer Gaza.”
Interior Minister Arye Deri said Israel is not interested in an escalation in the South, and he did not believe Hamas was either.
“Hamas was dragged into this by rebel groups,” he told Army Radio. “If there is quiet from them, there will also be quiet from us. We have provided time to prove that they can return the situation to normal. If they decide to let things get out of control, there will be a very painful blow. There is a good chance quiet will return after the blow the IDF dealt them.”
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan took to Twitter to warn the heads of terrorist groups in Gaza that Israel could renew past policies of targeted killings if the violence did not stop.
“Just as we have shown that we will do what it takes to prevent Iran’s terrorist proxies from threatening our northern border, we will do what it takes to prevent Iran’s proxies from threatening our southern border,” Erdan wrote. “Leaders of Islamic Jihad and Hamas: You have been forewarned.”
Construction Minister Yoav Gallant said at an innovation conference in Modi’in on Wednesday that he opposed retaking the Gaza Strip but supported targeted killings.
“If Hamas continues making mistakes, they will be responsible for spilling the blood of their leaders,” Gallant said. “We can reach those who shoot and those who instructed them to shoot. We can reach everyone.”
Zionist Union chairman Avi Gabbay warned that ministers could escalate violence with strong statements. He blamed 2014’s Operation Protective Edge on statements made by Bennett and then-foreign minister Avigdor Liberman.