The security cabinet issued a veiled warning of pending IDF strikes against Iranian and Hamas targets when it met amid a terror wave on Tuesday.
“The security cabinet made a series of decisions to strike at the terrorists and whoever dispatches them,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Office said after the closed-door meeting, whose details are withheld from the public.
It “authorized the prime minister and the defense minister to act accordingly,” the Prime Minister’s Office said after the meeting.
It did so after three Israelis were killed and one was seriously wounded in two separate terror attacks on Saturday and Monday.
Is the Palestinian wave of terror linked to Iran?
For Israel, this terror wave is directly linked to growing military tensions with Tehran, which it believes is exploiting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — particularly by strengthening Hamas — to open a new front against Israel and to retaliate against it for its aerial attacks against Iranian-based targets in Syria.
“This is why we have seen an increase in terror attacks,” National Security Security Adviser Tzahi Hanegbi told Army Radio on Tuesday.
In the aftermath of Monday’s attack, Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant took the unusual move of visiting the site of the attack, which took place on the edge of the remote South Hebron Hill region of the West Bank.
Netanyahu and Gallant warned that Iran and its proxies were behind the terror wave, with the prime minister issuing a statement similar to that of the one from Tuesday’s security cabinet meeting.
“We are using means, and we will use yet more, both offensive and defensive, to settle accounts with the murderers and those who dispatch them, near and far,” Netanyahu said.
With an eye to the region, Israeli late on Monday launched missiles targeting the vicinity of Syria's Damascus that left one Syrian soldier injured and "caused some material damage," the Syrian state news agency SANA reported
Strategically Israel carries out attacks against what it has described as Iran-linked targets in Syria, to prevent Tehran's growing entrenchment in that war-torn country.
With an eye toward increasing its ability to attack Israel, Iranian state media reported Tuesday that the Islamic Republic had built an advanced homemade drone named Mohajer-10 with an enhanced flight range and duration as well as a greater payload that has the capacity to attack Israel.
Hanegbi said that the security cabinet would discuss the issues facing Israel, particularly Iran and Hamas.
Hanegbi said that Iran is frustrated by its limited ability to push back at Israel’s decade-long policy of attacking Iranian military targets in Syria.
Tehran can’t respond directly from Syria or from Iran, he said. It, therefore, decided to finance and arm the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas to act against Israel, Hanegbi said.
“Iran is funding and arming and in general funneling its power into the area and Hamas is spearheading terrorism in the West Bank,” Hanegbi said.
This has made weapons, particularly guns, more available for terror groups, he said.
“We have said that we will settle accounts with the ‘dispatchers’ [of terror] and I have detailed where the ‘dispatchers are — in Gaza and in Iran,” he said.
The security cabinet met as settler leaders and a number of right-wing politicians have called for an expanded military operation in the West Bank, such as Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, to route out terror, as well as for the IDF to take steps to increase security on the roads.
A number of the main leaders of the Yesha Council gathered outside the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday to call for such a campaign.
Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan said, “We demand the immediate launch of a comprehensive military operation… all over Judea and Samaria and wherever necessary. There is no magic in the war on terror. This is what worked last time and this is also what will work now.”
Binyamin Regional Council head Israel Ganz said that Israeli military actions “must be more frequent and with greater force.”
The settler leaders called for the government to impose draconian measures on the Palestinians, including sealing off cities and villages that harbor terrorists and their cells.
Hanegbi told Army Radio that one can’t compare the military action needed in 2002 with the kind of campaign needed today, particularly given that larger forces are at play here such as the Iranian military and financial support.
The IDF did on Tuesday, continue its actions to halt terror in the West Bank. In the morning security forces arrested two Palestinians suspected of killing Batsheva Nigri, 42, by sparing the car she was riding in with bullets. The driver and her daughter survived the attack.
Separately the IDF killed a Palestinian militant during clashes that followed an arrest raid in the West Bank on Tuesday, the Islamic Jihad armed group said.
The IDF said that suspects threw explosives at soldiers in the confrontations near Jenin and that the troops responded with live fire.
The Palestinian Health Ministry confirmed one fatality. Dozens of mourners marched at the militant's funeral, some of them masked gunmen who fired rifles into the air.
"We will meet our enemy only with bullets and resistance," Islamic Jihad said.
The Security Cabinet clarified that the battle against terror would be led by Netanyahu and Gallant. At the meeting, National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir pushed for Israel and the IDF to impose restrictions on Palestinians akin to those proposed by the settler leaders, but he added, such as additional checkpoints on the roads, closures of cities and villages that harbor terrorists and their cells and harsher conditions for prisoners.
Ben Gvir also called for a return to targeted killings of Palestinian terror leaders in the West Bank. Gallant rejected his request.
“You are living in an imaginary movie,” Ben Gvir shot out at Gallant. “People are murdered here, a mother [was killed] in front of her daughter.”
During the debate, According to Channel 11, Gallant also raised the issue of public attacks against the army’s leaders in the past weeks, noting that is gave terror groups the impression that the IDF was weak and provided them with an incentive to take action against Israel.
After the meeting, the Security Cabinet issued a statement in support of the IDF, noting that it backs the commanders and soldiers of the IDF and the "personnel of the security services in their actions against terrorist elements on behalf of the security of the citizens of Israel.”
The security cabinet had originally been scheduled to meet in September, but convened instead on Tuesday in light of the terror wave.
It met on the same day that Gallant hosted the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, who he said, “is one of the most significant, true friends of the State of Israel, as well as a partner in our common mission to achieve stability and security.”
“The State of Israel recognizes and appreciates General Milley's cooperation within the framework of joint efforts in facing the Iranian threat, in both overt and covert activities, which shaped our region,” Gallant said.
Reuters contributed to this report