Bennett: Past year has been quietest in South since 2005 disengagement

He expects IAEA to give Iran a clear warning over its nuclear program.

 Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is seen alongside MK Ram Ben-Barak and National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata in the Knesset in Jerusalem, on June 7, 2022. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is seen alongside MK Ram Ben-Barak and National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata in the Knesset in Jerusalem, on June 7, 2022.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

This past year – since he took the reins of government – has been the quietest for the South since the 2005 disengagement from Gaza, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said on Tuesday

“We improved the security and lives of the residents of the South and brought back deterrence,” he told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. “This is a great achievement of this government.”

Terrorists in the Gaza Strip launched nine rockets into Israel over the past year, including six in 2022. Past years had significantly more rockets, although the first half of 2015 was as quiet as 2022 so far.

“This is a result of a clear, determined policy of aggressive responses to Hamas,” Bennett said.

Citing the Jerusalem Day flag march, which proceeded as planned despite Hamas saying it would attack Israel, he said: “We didn’t give in to Hamas threats.”

 People hold up Israeli flags at the annual Jerusalem Day flag march. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM) People hold up Israeli flags at the annual Jerusalem Day flag march. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Iran the octopus

Bennett reiterated his frequent metaphor for Iran as an octopus, saying Israel’s strategy has changed in the last year, and it is “acting against the head... and not just its arms, as we had in recent years.”

He said “Israel cannot and will not accept this situation” in which Iran enriches uranium beyond 60% purity. Iran came closer to having enough enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon last year than ever before. Weapons-grade uranium is enriched to 90%.

Bennett called on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors to “send a warning sign to Tehran if they continue their provocative policies.”

The Board of Governors began meeting on Monday, and is expected to discuss a resolution proposed by the UK, France, Germany and the US that calls on Iran to answer the IAEA’s queries about undeclared nuclear sites.

Bennett said Israel “will continue to act and maintain freedom of action against Iranian nukes as needed. We don’t just say it – we do it.”