Israel making ‘great strides’ to Gaza operation, minister says
"It is clear that after four years of quiet since Operation Protective Edge residents are back in an unacceptable situation."
By JERUSALEM POST STAFFUpdated: JULY 26, 2018 11:42Israel is making "great strides" toward a broad military operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip , Minister of Public Security and Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan asserted Thursday, following an escalation of violence with Gaza overnight.Erdan, speaking to Kan radio (Israel's public broadcaster), added that a possible military operation would extract a price from Hamas at least as great as 2014's Operation Protective Edge, "if not more than that.""We are being dragged into a wider operation with Hamas. We are approaching with great strides— because of Hamas— a situation in which the IDF will have to embark on a wide-scale operation," said Erdan."Rocket sirens were heard multiple times in areas bordering the Gaza Strip overnight and early Thursday, as the IDF confirmed nine projectiles were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip. The IDF said at least two were intercepted by Iron Dome batteries and the remainder fell in open areas, causing neither damages nor injuries.The escalation of violence began late Wednesday when a Hamas sniper shot and injured IDF officer, who was evacuated to a nearby hospital. The IDF responded with a number of airstrikes in Gaza, killing three militants there. During the course of the night, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a phone consultation with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot and the head of the national security council to discuss developments in Gaza and the north."It is clear that after four years of quiet since Operation Protective Edge residents are back in an unacceptable situation; there are rocket sirens at night and children in shelters," Erdan said. " If Hamas does not understand [this] from [Israel's] waves of attack, we will have to return to a broad military operation that will exact a price, at least as much as Operation Protective Edge if not more than that."AdvertisementErdan also touched on the rocket fire near the Sea of Galilee and said that Israel would not tolerate spillovers from the Syrian Civil War and would not accept any Iranian presence in the Syria.Erdan stressed Israel would respond to every incident on its borders, saying, "We must deal with chaos on our northern border.""When the Syrians are fighting against each other, there can be spillover. We must always respond, our policy does not change whether it is a fighter jet or a rocket.The army underlined a point that it will not accept any breaches of Israeli security on Wednesday after it struck Syria in response.“The IDF will act against any attempt to harm the sovereignty of the State of Israel and the security of its residents,” the IDF said in a statement released Wednesday night.The minister also rejected a recent proposal that Iranian forces in Syria be removed 100 kilometers from the border, noting the ministers agreed that no presence in Syria would be accepted. "No illegitimate Iranian force [is allowed] on Syrian soil," he said, "certainly from the moment it is clear the regime is regaining control there is no reason for Iran to be there."If it is to promote its radical Islamic revolution, there is consensus in the government not to allow an Iranian presence in Syria, period."