WASHINGTON - Israel delivered a “very powerful response” to Hamas and will go into the Gaza Strip if necessary – regardless of the upcoming elections – to ensure Israel's security, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday evening before boarding his plane back to Israel.
“Hamas needs to know that we will not hesitate to enter [Gaza] and take all the necessary steps needed without any connection to anything, to any date, but rather only to Israel's security,” the prime minister said at Andrews Air Force Base.
Netanyahu shortens his visit to US to respond to rocket strike, March 25, 2019 (Reuters)
Netanyahu headed back to Israel some six hours after he finished meeting US President Donald Trump, following hours of consultations from the Blair House with the security establishment in Israel.
The prime minister cut short his visit to Washington by two days because of the Hamas rocket attack and the escalating situation in the south.
Before leaving, Netanyahu was believed to have approved a bank of significant targets to hit while he will be some 11 hours in the air. He is expected to land in Israel Tuesday afternoon, and said he will head immediately to the defense ministry headquarters in the Kiriya in Tel Aviv.
The Hamas attack, and Netanyahu's decision to return to Israel to deal with the crisis, overshadowed US President Donald Trump's formal recognition of Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and instead of spending the day reaping the political benefits of the proclamation, Netanyahu spent it at the White House's official guest residence managing Israel's response to the crisis from afar.
Nevertheless, before leaving Washington he termed Trump’s Golan decision “historic,” and one that will be “remembered for generations.”
“It took us 50 years to get this,” he said. “This sets an important principle in international life: when you start aggressive wars, and you lose territory, don't come and claim them afterward.” Israel captured the strategic Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six Day War.
The Golan, he said, is part of Israel. “We have historic foundations on the Golan Heights,” he said. “When you put a shovel in the ground you uncover magnificent synagogues that we are restoring there.”
“We have returned to the Golan, the Golan is ours,” Netanyahu declared. “The Golan is ours by historic right, the Golan is ours by the right of self defense, and President Trump recognized this.”
“The fact that you don't cover this for more than a minute,” he chided reporters on the tamarack before boarding the plane back to Israel, “is something that we will hold you accountable for. But in terms of history, this is huge.”