Netanyahu: I won't hold back from broad Gaza operation, even during elections

Netanyahu also related to the furor caused by the decision to bar entry to US congresswoman Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.

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August 18, 2019 19:17
2 minute read.
Netanyahu: I won't hold back from broad Gaza operation, even during elections

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to reporters before embarking on a trip to Ukraine with his wife, Sara, August 18, 2019. (photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)

Israel will embark on a wide-scale campaign in the Gaza Strip regardless of the current election campaign, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday at Ben-Gurion Airport on his way to Ukraine for a two day trip.

“I want to praise the IDF for its activities in killing five terrorists in Gaza,” he said. “My objective is to maintain security and quiet, and we are taking all the necessary actions to this end.”

Netanyahu said he has heard those saying that election considerations are preventing him from launching a widespread military campaign in Gaza.

“That is not correct,” he said. “Everyone who knows me knows that my considerations are to the point, genuine, and that I act in full coordination with the security forces with firmness and the necessary consideration.”

"We are taking all the necessary action,” he said. “The other side is feeling our strength.”

His comments came as tensions between Israel and Gaza continue to rise after rockets were shot from Gaza on Saturday night, with one landing in Sderot causing damage but no injuries. Three armed Palestinians were later killed trying to infiltrate into Israel.

Earlier on Sunday, Foreign Minister Israel Katz dismissed the possibility of a ground invasion, telling Army Radio that “what happened yesterday in Sderot will not be left without a response. We are maintaining a policy of not initiating a wide-scale operation but keeping the deterrence.”

The leader of the Blue and White party former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz visited the Israeli communities bordering the Strip on Sunday morning and said that “the deterrence hasn’t been eroded, it’s been erased.”

Criticising Netanyahu’s policy towards the Strip, Gantz said that if elected his party “will defeat Hamas militarily, we’ll bring quiet to the residents of the south, and will not allow this to spill over into the West Bank.”

Netanyahu also related to the furor caused by the decision to bar entry to US congresswoman Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, backing up his envoy to the US Ron Dermer who said last month that Israel would allow their entrance.

When Dermer made his comment, Netanyahu said there was no specific request for a visit nor was the itinerary known.

“This is not a partisan decision, but one of principle,” he said. “We respect equally both US political parties, but we also respect ourselves. We will not allow entry to those who come here to impose boycotts on us and undercut the legitimacy of the State of israel.”

On July 19, Dermer said, “Out of respect for the US Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America, we would not deny entry to any member of Congress into Israel."

On Saturday night, Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a television interview that Dermer spoke at the time on his own initiative, and was neither expressing his opinion or that of Netanyahu.

Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.


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