Photo: Reuters

Israeli leaders warn Gaza over attacks

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed an annual economic conference of the Makor Rishon newspaper in Jerusalem, where he warned the Islamist-Hamas organization in Gaza that if it fails to prevent all rocket fire from its Jihadist-infested territory, Jerusalem will be forced to launch a widescale operation that will deal a decisive blow that will end Gaza’s reign of terror once and for all.  “They received a sample, several weeks ago,” said Netanyahu, going on to say that “I do not suggest that they wait for a second portion.” He then explicitly stated that such an action will be forthcoming “if they continue (to fire rockets). There won’t be any (ceasefire) arrangement if the (rocket)fire ceases completely. And if it doesn’t, it will ultimately resolute in a decisive operation.”

Netanyahu also referred to the Islamist organizations in Gaza as “branches of Iran” that carry out the bidding of the Ayatollah regime. He emphasized that while the threats from the Gaza Strip persist, it is only one aspect of the Islamic Republic’s declared-efforts to annihilate the Jewish State. “What is happening in Syria, what is happening in Iraq, what is happening in Lebanon and of course, in Yemen, in all these places, including Iran itself; Iran is trying to place long-range and accurate missiles against the State of Israel,” he said. Netanyahu added, “It is not obvious that if we do not act in the global theater, if we do not act in the world arena, we will not be able to stop this threat, and if we will act against it, we will be able (to thwart the Iranian threat).” He also stated, “And we have proven that we can backtrack Iran’s nuclear program for many years to come. Had it not been for the activity which I led in the land (Israel), in special operations, and in the international effort, Iran would have already possessed nuclear weapons. I intend to continue leading it to ensure Israel’s security.”

Shortly after the Likud chief’s address, his political rival Blue and White Chairman Benny Gantz also spoke to the same conference. The former IDF Chief of Staff pledged to provide Jerusalem’s presiding transitional government with the necessary backing to assure the preservation of Israel’s national security interests. “Blue and White, under my leadership, will support any correct security-related issue at any time and from any position,” said the Lt.-Col (Res.). “We will also support (any actions) that will return (Israel’s) deterrence in the Gaza Strip.” Such deterrence, he added “to our regret was worn-out by the current (Netanyahu) government, that did not do enough after Operation Protective Edge (2014), when it attained three and a half years of calm.” Gantz went on to say that he “completely understands the protest by the country’s southern residents and their municipal leaders, who are the frequent targets of Gaza rockets, and vowed that “we will do everything in our power and we are touring the area frequently to help them, also during these times of political deadlock that was forced upon us.”

With just two days before the potential dissolution of the Knesset, in the absence of a miracle the country will be forced into a third round of unprecedented elections. Both Netanyahu and Gantz have stepped up rhetoric against one another, with both accusing the other of responsibility for failing to form a unity government. Netanyahu insists Gantz’s refusal to establish a unity government under Netanyahu’s leadership was the main reason for the deadlock, while Gantz blames Netanyahu for refusing to step aside while he contends with his indictment on corruption charges.

Regardless of the wide-ranging gaps, however, Gantz pledged to do all in his power to avert a “needless election,” as long as it does not contravene with his personal principles and values. The Blue and White leader said he still hopes to “attain success” in preventing a return trip to the polls, stressing it would not be accomplished “with spins that will return us to the same (political dead-end).” Instead, he maintained that “We must avert elections out of a sense of responsibility, and that is why, I will make every effort within the framework of values that guide me, and without compromising on my basic principles, to avert such (needless) elections. I consult with many partners, I consult with my close partners in Blue and White and make the decisions. I make the decisions and no one else. I identify that lately, many (people) think that acts of corruption can be forgiven because of one political circumstance or another. The support of a political and diplomatic path blinds certain people that seek to protect and praise, in this circumstance, the prime minister (Netanyahu). We cannot accept this. This was wrong at other times and it is wrong now.”