‘Don’t test us,’ PM warns Gaza

Gov’t official: Retaliation policy unchanged since Schalit swap.

PM Netanyahu at cabinet meeting 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
PM Netanyahu at cabinet meeting 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Two principles guide policy regarding rocket fire from Gaza, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday: killing those trying to attack Israelis before they can carry out their plans, and – failing that – killing the attackers afterward.
One government source said there has been no change in retaliatory policy toward rocket fire from Gaza as a result of the Gilad Schalit swap, and that since Jerusalem did not hold back from military action against Gaza when the captive soldier was being held by Hamas, his release did not trigger a reassessment of policy.
“We were never restrained in our response because of Schalit,” the source said. “There was never a connection between the two.”
The source said the policy Netanyahu articulated at the cabinet meeting was that if Israel saw people about to fire rockets or preparing an attack, it would act to eliminate that threat. And if the attack was carried out anyhow, those who were responsible would not be immune from an Israeli response.
The prime minister told the weekly cabinet meeting, held this time in Safed to mark the opening of a new medical school there, that both these principles came together a day earlier in Gaza. According to Netanyahu, the IDF knocked out one cell in a preemptive attack, and when this triggered the firing of numerous rockets at Israel, Israel went after the cell responsible for that rocket fire as well.
Netanyahu said he would not advise anyone “to test our determination to implement these two principles.”
“We are not engaging in rhetoric or looking for an escalation, but will protect ourselves according to these principles,” he said.
Netanyahu stressed that Hamas, which is in control of Gaza, “is responsible for keeping the quiet and preventing fire from Gaza, even if those who carry it out are Islamic Jihad men.”
President Shimon Peres, who also participated in the special cabinet session in Safed, said that while Hamas was trying to undermine Israel’s existence, it was actually undermining its own.
“Terrorism does not allow the citizens of Gaza to have a normal existence,” he said. “Hamas claims that it controls Gaza, and therefore it has direct responsibility for what goes on there. The writing is clearly on the wall, and they are the ones who will bear the difficult consequences of their actions.”
Turning to the Palestinians, Peres said, “Neither you or we want war.
But the Gaza missiles are a declaration of war.”