PM says Israel will not 'sit on hands' as Gaza rearms behind civilian shield

Netanyahu: 98% drop in rocket attacks from Gaza since Pillar of Defense.

Netanyahu and Yaalon talking 370 (photo credit: Courtesy Defense Ministry)
Netanyahu and Yaalon talking 370
(photo credit: Courtesy Defense Ministry)
Hamas is manufacturing and storing rockets in Gaza residential areas, and although Israel will strictly uphold international law, it will not “sit on its hands” in the face of terrorist threats, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Tuesday.
Netanyahu’s words came during a visit to the IDF Gaza Division to mark one year since Operation Pillar of Defense, the eight-day IDF operation in Gaza last November brought on by a sharp uptick in Hamas rocket fire.
Netanyahu said that Hamas was prepared to fire on Israeli cities and hide behind civilians in Gaza, which amounts to “two war crimes at the same time.”
“It is our full legal and moral right to direct fire – that is as precise as possible – at those who fire indiscriminately at our people,” he said. “The responsibility for any collateral damage that is liable to be caused to the residents of Gaza lies squarely on Hamas’s shoulders.”
Netanyahu said Operation Pillar of Defense has significantly improved the security situation in the area. Since the operation, there has been a 98 percent decline in rocket and missile attacks from Gaza, he said.
“It seems that most of the firing has been ineffective; there have been 35 instances. There is no doubt that significant deterrence has been achieved,” he said.
Netanyahu said that despite the relative quiet, “we are not deluding ourselves.” He stated that Hamas was continuing to arm in various different ways and was trying to develop an “underground track,” through the use of tunnels, to carry out attacks on Israel.
He said that while Israel must find a response to those threats, in the final analysis “deterrence is achieved by the enemy’s knowing that we will not tolerate attacks on our communities and our soldiers, and that we will respond in great strength.”
Netanyahu said that in addition to deterring attacks from Gaza, the country has also succeeded – “even to an absolute degree” – in closing its border with Sinai. He said there has not been a single penetration of the Sinai border in the last three months.
Netanyahu was briefed on the situation in the South by Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Deputy IDF Chief-of- Staff Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Shlomo Turgeman.