image Photo: Flash90

Israel in midst of major campaign

In an address to the Israeli people, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that “We are in the midst of a campaign,” and urged “patience and a certain sacrifice on your part, citizens of Israel.”

The Israeli leader has repeatedly vowed that “Hamas will receive blows here that it did not expect” in the current confrontation, which has been dubbed “Operation Guardian of the Walls.”

Netanyahu made the statements following a late-night security assessment at IDF Southern Command headquarters on Tuesday with Defense Minister Benny Gantz, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, the head of the National Security Council, GOC Southern Command and other senior officials.

He also urged the public to “listen to instructions and strictly follow the directives of IDF Home Front Command,” he then cautioned that “We still have a way to go and we will do so together with responsibility and full backing for the attacks that the IDF is making and will make.”

In statements addressed to the nation’s Arab citizens in the wake of wide-scale rioting in support of Gaza and Palestinians in Jerusalem, Netanyahu said that the “wild disturbances” by “young hotheads” would not be tolerated.

“Our directive is to do everything to maintain law and order. I expect all public leaders, especially leaders of the Arab public, to stand up and condemn these disturbances and do everything to restore the quiet,” he said.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz also made several remarks following the security assessment.

“The IDF has been acting in full force over the past 24 hours. In hundreds of strikes, weapons production sites, tunnels, and towers that have been serving terror organizations have crumbled, and they will keep crumbling,” said the Defense Minister, underscoring that, “There are many more targets – this is just the beginning.”

Saying that the terror organizations in Gaza “have taken a hard hit and they will continue to be hit because of their irresponsible decision to fire into Israeli territory,” Gantz vowed to “restore quiet and security and we will do so for the long term.”

In an appeal for calm from Israeli Arabs, Defense Minister Gantz said, “The IDF, I remind us all, protects and defends all of us – Jews and Arabs alike – and I call upon all of Israel’s citizens: now is the time to act responsibly, avoid violence in any direction, and any violence at all.”

Then, in a statement directed at world leadership, Gantz stressed that, “There isn’t a sovereign country anywhere that would accept incoming rocket fire on its citizens and population centers. We don’t accept it either. It is our right and responsibility to act, and that is what we will do.”

The Arab League has accused Israel of “indiscriminate and irresponsible” attacks in Gaza, and asserted that it is responsible for what it called the “dangerous escalation” in Jerusalem.

The United States said on Tuesday that Israel has a legitimate right to defend itself from rocket attacks but cautioned the country over the treatment of Palestinians, and that Jerusalem must be a place of coexistence.

The White House said it has been delaying United Nations Security Council efforts to issue a public statement on the escalating tensions between Israel and Gaza because it could be harmful to behind-the-scenes efforts to end the violence, diplomats and a source familiar with the US strategy told Reuters.

State Department Spokesman Ned Price has urged calm and “restraint on both sides,” saying: “The loss of life, the loss of Israeli life, the loss of Palestinian life, It’s something that we deeply regret.”

He added: “We are urging this message of de-escalation to see this loss of life come to an end.”

The International Committee of the Red Cross has also urged all sides to step back, and reminded them of the requirement in international law to try to avoid civilian casualties.

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Tor Wennesland tweeted: “Stop the fire immediately. We’re escalating towards a full-scale war. Leaders on all sides have to take the responsibility of de-escalation.” He added that the “UN is working w/ all sides to restore calm. Stop the violence now.”

Qatar, Egypt and the United Nations had reportedly been in contact with all sides to urge the restoration of calm.