The IDF struck a Gaza terror cell Monday for the second time in 24 hours as Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman warned Hamas that Israel was not afraid to go to war.
Last night, the air force also hit a cell that had launched flaming kites and balloons into the South.On Saturday, as part of an Egypt-brokered understanding, Hamas agreed to halt its violent attacks against Israel, which has included rockets, mortars, flaming kites and balloons. There have also been repeated infiltration attempts and violent riots at the Gaza-Israel border.On Friday, a Palestinian sniper killed an Israeli soldier at the border fence. For the last three days, however, Hamas has not executed an attack against Israel.Liberman has said he will rescind the severe restrictions he has imposed on Gaza’s main commercial crossing at Kerem Shalom by Tuesday as long as Hamas continues to hold its fire.But on Monday night, he said he would wait until Tuesday before announcing whether he plans to rescind his ban on commercial goods, food and fuel.Earlier in the day he met with members of the IDF’s general staff to discuss the border violence.“Regarding the Gaza Strip, we must ask ourselves four basic questions: Is the State of Israel interested in a war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip? The answer is no. Are we deterred from [engaging in a military] campaign in the Gaza Strip? Here too, the answer is no,” Liberman said. “Are we prepared to accept a reality in which there is fire, incendiary kites and friction along the fence? The answer is no. Have we done everything we can to prevent a war in Gaza? The answer is yes,” Liberman said. “So everything that happens from here on in with regard to the Gaza Strip is solely the responsibility of the Hamas leadership.”The UN’s special envoy to the peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, held a flurry of diplomatic meetings on Monday in an effort to advance an economic and rehabilitation plan for Gaza, which also includes the reconciliation of the rival Hamas and Fatah factions.In Ramallah he met with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and representatives from the European Union, World Bank and Norway.The diplomats discussed a way to provide financial support for Gaza, halting violence and support for Hamas and Fatah reconciliation efforts. They also met last week in Oslo.In Jerusalem Mladenov met in the afternoon with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and earlier in the day he spoke with Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who is a member of the security cabinet.Mladenov tweeted a photo of his meeting with Bennett with the following statement: “Very constructive meeting with Minister of Education @naftalibennett. #Israeli communities in the South and #Palestinians in #Gaza have lived long enough in fear. We need to resolve all #humanitarian issues, support #UN & #Egyptian efforts and step back from the brink,. Bennett retweeted Mladenov’s words and added: “Productive meeting with @nmladenov. Working to restore calm in Gaza front. Round of violence will serve nobody.” But he also commented on the violence on both of Israel’s borders, warning that Iran was trying to drag Israel into a war in the North and the South.Tehran is responsible for the violence on the Gaza, Lebanese and Syrian borders, he said.“Iran’s goal is to simultaneously entangle Israel on many fronts,” Bennett tweeted after his meeting with Mladenov. “My opinion is that Iran is stirring trouble to alleviate multiple pressures. Israel should avoid dual Iranian-driven fronts. Ground op in Gaza only as very last resort.”There is no justification for endangering soldiers in a Gaza ground operation until all other options have been exhausted, said Bennett. He explained that this included both other military economic and civilian options, but he did not elaborate.Mladenov also plans to brief the UN Security Council in New York on Tuesday about events on the Gaza border, during its monthly meeting on the Middle East.UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said “Efforts by Egypt and the UN have put in place a cease-fire, but the situation remains extremely fragile. I urge the parties and all those with influence to do their utmost to avoid another round of violence and misery.”
"Truce" agreed after Gaza border flares again, July 21, 2018 (Reuters)