Hamas: Without government, Israel is powerless on Gaza

Security cabinet weighs renewal of targeted assassinations, increased military response.

November 4, 2019 11:38
2 minute read.
Hamas: Without government, Israel is powerless on Gaza

The son of senior Hamas militant Mazen Fuqaha sits on the shoulders of Hamas Gaza Chief Yahya Al-Sinwar as Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (L) gestures during a memorial service for Fuqaha, in Gaza City March 27, 2017.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

The absence of a government has prevented Israel from taking strategic decisions on Gaza or proceeding toward a deal for sustained calm, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar said on Sunday.

“They don’t even have a government that could approve the budget or discuss security issues such as the Iranian threat,” he added. “We are ready to secure the release of our prisoners and make all possible efforts to achieve that.”

Sinwar spoke in the aftermath of a violent weekend on the Gaza border, in response to which the interim security cabinet met to discuss options to both prevent further flareups in the South and to counter threats along Israel’s northern border.

During the meeting, ministers discussed the possibility of renewing the policy of targeted assassinations, but no decision was taken on the matter, according to Israeli media reports.

Other ideas included ratcheting up the military response to rocket fire. There was also a proposal, according to Channel 12, to offer a series of incentives to improve life for residents of Gaza, with the threat of immediately removing them should the rocket fire continue. No public statement was issued after the meeting.

Energy Minister and security cabinet member Yuval Steinitz told Army Radio about the need for a new military campaign against Gaza.

“As it seems now, we will be forced to embark on a major military operation, and only then will we come to an arrangement with Hamas,” he said. “If there is no choice, we will also launch a ground campaign to eliminate Hamas rule.”

The Hamas leader, however, portrayed Israel as weak as he dismissed claims by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli negotiator Yoram Blum that talks were ongoing for the release of the bodies of the two missing soldiers and for the two men held captive in Gaza.

“There are no negotiations over this file,” Sinwar said. The Israeli government is “unable to make decisive decisions on this strategic issue.”

Earlier in the day, Netanyahu told his weekly government meeting that Hamas is responsible for every attack originating from the territory of the Gaza Strip.

“I do not intend to go into detail here about our plans,” he said. “We will continue to take action on all fronts for the security of the State of Israel: both openly and covertly; in the sea, in the air and on land.”

Netanyahu said that Israel is in a very sensitive and volatile security period on several fronts – north, east and south.
“Immediately after the firing at the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip, I convened a discussion of the security leadership at the Defense Ministry,” he said. “I ordered that we attack a series of objectives; therefore, the air force attacked them. You could certainly be impressed by the power of the assault.”

On Friday night, Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza launched 10 rockets against the South. In a retaliatory strike, the IDF hit Hamas targets, killing a Palestinian man and wounding two others.

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