PM: We will not tolerate a ‘drizzle’ of attacks from Gaza

Wave of terror meant to sabotage peace talks and possibility of two-state solution, says Labor party leader Isaac Herzog

Netanyahu at Cabinet meeting Dec 15 370 (photo credit: Reuters)
Netanyahu at Cabinet meeting Dec 15 370
(photo credit: Reuters)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu characterized the cross-border shooting of a Defense Ministry employee on Tuesday as a “very grave incident” that Israel would not let go unanswered.
This attack from Gaza, unlike the other terrorist attacks this week, elicited a quick and immediate response from Netanyahu.
“Our policy up until now has been to prevent beforehand and to react with force, and this is how we will act now as well,” he said.
Government sources said the prime minister viewed this incident as particularly serious, both within the context of the string of other attacks this week – the foiled bus bomb in Bat Yam, the rocket fire from Gaza and the knifing of a border policeman outside Jerusalem – and also because it was such a clear violation of the understandings that brought an end to November 2012’s Operation Pillar of Defense.
Israel clamped restrictions in the past on Palestinians working inside the Gaza Strip, near the security fence, to prevent exactly the type of sniper attack that killed an Israeli Defense Ministry worker on Tuesday, government officials said.
Those restrictions were eased as part of the understandings brokered by Egypt that brought an end to Operation Pillar of Defense against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
According to those understandings, Israel eased security restrictions on Gazans working close to the security fence.
Netanyahu made his comments as he was about to fly back to Jerusalem from Sderot, where he went to dedicate the new Tel Aviv- Sderot train line.
Israel would not tolerate a “drizzle” of attacks from Gaza, which would “turn into a storm,” he said.
Since Pillar of Defense, the south has been quieter than it had been for more than a decade, the prime minister said. “I am committed to maintaining that quiet, with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. That is our policy.”
Netanyahu said that there had recently been a “certain increase” in attempts to commit terrorist attacks.
“We are foiling them through the IDF, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and security services, and through our aggressive policy,” he said.
President Shimon Peres spoke out about the escalation on Monday, saying that Gazan terrorists were “playing with fire.”
“If Gaza wants peace, it must behave quietly,” he said. “If not, it will suffer the results of the unrest exponentially. Gaza is under no occupation,” he continued. “If it thinks the world will continue to support it, and contribute to the death of innocents, it is wrong... We will continue to ensure our security.”
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said the attack “proves that Hamas and its satellite organizations are determined to harm Israeli citizens, without any connection to their religion or ideology.”
“The trickle of attacks must stop and life near Gaza must be stable and safe,” Edelstein said, sending his condolences to the victim’s family.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) said he was certain the current wave of terror was meant to sabotage peace talks with the PLO and the possibility of a two-state solution.
“We will not give in to terror and will not let it win or determine the State of Israel’s interests,” he said. “I trust that the IDF and security forces will act against terror.”
Some on the Right did not share Herzog’s determination to continue negotiating.
“The deterioration in security shows once again that the Palestinians don’t want peace,” Deputy Minister for Liaison with the Knesset Ofir Akunis (Likud Beytenu) said. “This is a direct result of the Palestinian incitement against Israel.”
Knesset Finance Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky (Bayit Yehudi) said the next release of terrorists from prison, which is planned for next week, should be canceled, calling it “absurd.”
“Day after day Israeli residents’ lives are endangered and the government continues blindly giving in to the demands of the Palestinian Authority and the Americans.
We should put an end to this farce. As long as terror against Israel continues, we cannot release even one terrorist,” Slomiansky said.
Concerned that “escalating violence” could result in “another cycle of bloodshed,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned on Tuesday against further retaliatory strikes by Israel against targets in the PA .
Ban condemned “the killing of an Israeli civilian today as a result of cross-border fire from Gaza, and the bus bombing near Tel Aviv on Sunday,” his spokesman said.
“He also deplores the death of a young child in Gaza from Israeli retaliatory raids today as well as a number of Palestinian civilian casualties since Friday,” the spokesman said, adding that the secretary-general hoped a two-state solution would end violence between Israel and the Palestinians “permanently.”
Michael Wilner contributed to this report from New York.