Gantz to Gaza: We know how to target those against us

In a meeting with Gaza envelope leaders, Gantz said every attack from Gaza has seen a military response

Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz in a meeting on August 19, 2020 (photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz in a meeting on August 19, 2020
(photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday against continuing to launch rockets and incendiary and explosive aerial devices into Israel, hinting that the IDF could expand its targets.
“We know how to target not only buildings and infrastructure, but also those who act from them,” he said during a meeting with local regional authority leaders from the Gaza border communities.
The meeting was attended by Agriculture Minister and Gaza border communities resident Alon Schuster, Gaza Division commander Brig.-Gen. Nimrod Aloni (by videoconference), Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi, Eshkol Regional Council chairman Gadi Yarkoni, Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council chairman Ofir Libstein, Ashkelon Mayor Tomer Glam, and Hof Ashkelon Regional Council chairman Itamar Revivo.
Gantz said that since he took office as defense minister, every attack from Gaza has seen a response by the Israeli military.
“We have changed the equation in Gaza. Since I entered office, there has been a response to every breach in our security,” he said, adding that “Israel has no strategic interests in Gaza” other than the return of the missing IDF soldiers and civilians held by Hamas and complete cessation of hostilities.
“If these two goals are achieved, we will then be able to develop Gaza,” he said.
The defense minister’s warning came as at least 14 fires caused by incendiary aerial devices, such as balloons, launched from the Hamas-run coastal enclave, burned farmland and forests in southern Israel throughout the day.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday said Israel is treating airborne incendiary attacks like rocket attacks and warned Hamas that the group would be making a “very big mistake” if it keeps up the violence, hinting that the group’s members, as well as those belonging to Palestinian Islamic Jihad, might be targeted.
“We have adopted a policy under which a fire is treated as a rocket,” he told mayors of southern communities in a phone call. “We have, for 10 days consecutively, been striking Hamas and [other] terror groups’ infrastructure. We are also applying various sanctions in areas that are important to Hamas. Unfortunately, we are also preparing, as needed, for the possibility of a round, or [multiple] rounds, [of fighting]. I hope we won’t get to this.”
“Hamas will be making a very big mistake if it continues with this. It is already getting an indication of where this will lead, and it certainly remembers where it has led in the past, and I hope Islamic Jihad also remembers where it led,” he said.
Later that evening, a rocket was launched from Gaza toward Ashkelon, the first time that the city was targeted in the latest round of violence. Several residents were injured while running for shelter, yet no damage was caused by the rocket, which landed outside a cement factory in the southern part of the city.
The IDF responded by targeting Hamas sites, including a military compound belonging to an elite unit of the terrorist group.