Photo: Flash90

Gantz: Israel needs hardline defense policy

Several balloons rigged with explosives were sent into Israeli territory from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip today.

The incidents included the discovery of an explosive device near a kindergarten in Kibbutz Sa’ad by a passerby in the Sdot Negev Regional Council, after it had been dislodged from a cluster of balloons that landed nearby. Police bomb sappers defused the explosive safely, and no injuries or damage were reported.

During extensive talks with Hamas organization in Gaza today, a visiting Egyptian intelligence delegation demanded the Islamist Palestinians end hostilities and observe the recent truce with Israeli that resulted in relative quiet over the past several months. An Egyptian source told TV7, on condition of anonymity, that Hamas received a clear message to “either stop the violence, or face a drastic escalation that would threaten the group’s grip on the Palestinian enclave.”

Cairo’s representatives also delivered a message that Egypt disapproves of Hamas’ ties with Iran and advocated it refrain from involvement in the potential outbreak of a regional conflagration with the Islamic Republic, according to Arab media reports that TV7 has been unable to verify.

During the Israeli leg of its tour, the Egyptian delegation urged their counterparts to commit to an unconditional ceasefire with Hamas and to end all attacks on the enclave under its control.

Amid ongoing acts of terror and sporadic attacks on civilian Israeli communities, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior officials have levelled serious threats at the responsible Islamist organizations in Gaza. In a rebuke of the government’s inability to contain the violence, Netanyahu’s political rival and Blue and White Chairman Benny Gantz insisted that ‘Jerusalem must adopt a more hardline defense policy against the jihadist organizations in Gaza.’ “Explosive balloons, detonators, fires – and the list goes on. We cannot come to terms with this complete absence of quiet in the south. Rather than unleashing hysterical declarations, the Israeli government should be pursuing a hardline defense policy on any breach of security,” criticized the former IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. (Res.), going on to vow that if elected, “I will ensure the security in the south and from the south.”

Israel is faced with an unprecedented third round of parliamentary elections slated for 2 March, which has driven up rhetoric among the country’s many diverse political parties and blocs in attempts to garner the support of undecided voters.  According to the latest public opinion polls, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party would take 33 parliamentary mandates, reflecting a 3-seat lag behind the 36 going to Gantz’ Blue and White faction. The Knesset has a total of 120 Members (MKs).