Israel signaled to Hamas and to countries around the world that it wants to keep Operation Shield and Arrow limited and focused after its launch, though the security cabinet authorized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to determine whether to escalate the operation, in a meeting on Tuesday evening.
“Last week, when we decided [to launch the operation] we instructed security forces to be read for any scenario, to be ready for an escalation and possibly to fight on more than one front,” Netanyahu said after the cabinet meeting. “No one is immune, even if they hide deep in their terrorist dens.”
Referring to the week between Palestinian Islamic Jihad launching over 100 rockets from Gaza into Israel and the start of Operation Shield and Arrow, Netanyahu quoted from Proverbs: “I understand the desire to hurt those who hurt us, but as they say, ‘wage war with strategies.’”
Israel killed the Palestinian Islamic Jihad leaders “simultaneously in their hideouts before they could execute more terrorist attacks,” Netanyahu said after the cabinet meeting.
The difference between Israel and PIJ is “they want to strike civilians, while we avoid them. We are sorry for all harm to uninvolved civilians, while they celebrate it and give out candy.”
Israel's diplomatic messaging on Gaza
Earlier Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry instructed diplomats abroad to tell the governments of the countries in which they are stationed that the operation is limited and focused, and Israel does not seek further escalation. Knesset Speaker Amir Ohana made a similar statement to the Italian parliament’s foreign affairs committees.
In that vein, Israel worked to keep Hamas out of the latest round of fighting, sending a message via Egypt that Hamas should not get involved in this operation, or else Israel will strike their assets, including targeted assassinations of their leadership, Channel 12 reported.
Netanyahu’s remarks and other official statements about the fighting left out what was once a consistent message from Israel, that it views Hamas as responsible for everything that happens in Gaza.
The Foreign Ministry instructed Israeli diplomats around the world to encourage foreign governments to express support for Israel’s right to act against terrorism and to defend itself and its citizens. Drawing an equivalency between Israel and Islamic Jihad will only encourage further terrorism by the latter.
They were also told say that this is a narrow, focused operation against terrorist infrastructure, Israel is not interested in an escalation, and any appeals by the Palestinian Authority to international forums will only increase tensions. Using the upcoming “Nakba Day” (May 15) and “Naksa Day” (June 5), in which Palestinians mourn Israel’s establishment and its victory in the Six Day War, as well as Jerusalem Day (May 18-19) and Shavuot (May 25-26), to increase tensions will only bring further escalation, the diplomats were advised to say.