Photo: Reuters

Netanyahu: ‘whoever hurts us, we will hurt them’

Israel will not commit itself to any limitations on its operational activities pertaining to Jerusalem’s security policy, and maintains complete freedom of action to target whoever tries to harm the Jewish State.

In opening remarks to the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commended Israel’s defense forces and security cabinet for what he referred to as “the perfect carrying out of Operation Black Belt,” while vehemently rejecting claims that his government conformed to Jihadist Palestinian demands to end Jerusalem’s policy of targeted assassinations, under Egyptian-mediation, which subsequently ended hostilities between Israel and the Islamist-controlled Gaza Strip. According to the Israeli leader “First, I would like to commend the security forces for the perfect carrying out of Operation Black Belt. I would also like to thank the members of the government for unanimously approving the important decision to embark on this operation. The goals of the operation were fully met. I would like to reiterate: Israel has not committed to anything. Our security policy has not changed at all, not one iota. We maintain complete freedom of action and we will hurt whoever tries to hurt us.”

The Prime Minister reacted to reports that alleged ‘a change in Jerusalem’s security policy served as the alleviating factor that ultimately facilitated the Cairo-brokered cessation of hostilities’ with the Iranian-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

Netanyahu’s stance is in line with TV7’s previous report, in which an Egyptian intelligence official revealed that the situation between Israel and Gaza remains fragile due to lingering gaps vis-à-vis the terms of the ceasefire, specifically with regard to Israel’s reluctance to provide assurances to refrain from utilizing the tactic of targeted assassinations against ‘terror operatives’. On the one hand, Jerusalem’s refusal to do so significantly increases the country’s level of deterrence, while on the other hand, it contravenes with the public pledge that was made by the leader of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Zeyad al-Nakhala, to continue the fight against Israel unless all of their demands are met.

Meanwhile Palestinian Islamists launched a barrage of rockets from the Gaza Strip toward Israel’s southern communities, before-dawn on Saturday. The IDF spokesperson’s unit informed TV7 that around 2 AM “two rockets were fired from the (Hamas-controlled enclave) towards Israeli territory.” Both projectiles were successfully intercepted by the Iron Dome Defense System above the southern Israeli city of Beersheba – thankfully – causing no injuries or damage. Approximately three hours later, the Israel Air Force launched a retaliatory sortie, during which it targeted a series of militant installations. In contrast to Operation ‘Black Belt’, during which the IDF targeted the Palestinian Islamic Jihad exclusively, the Israeli bombardment on Saturday morning destroyed infrastructure belonging to the Islamist Hamas organization. The IDF underscored in a statement that it “holds the Hamas terror organization responsible for events transpiring in the Gaza Strip and emanating from it,” while further highlighting that “Hamas will bear the consequences for actions against Israeli civilians.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also referred to Saturday’s rocket-fire during Jerusalem’s weekly cabinet meeting – vowing to do everything to ensure the security of the Jewish State. He said, “Over the weekend, Hamas fired at Beersheba. I instructed the IDF to immediately attack Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip. Again, whoever hurts us, we will hurt them. We are prepared for any scenario and the security forces know exactly which plans they must implement to defend the State of Israel in any arena. We will do everything to ensure the security of Israel.”

It is important to note that despite the fact that the Hamas organization refrained from joining the Islamic Jihad in last week’s battle against Israel- consequently raising tensions between the two Palestinian Islamist groups- the rocket-fire that was directed toward Israel on Saturday morning is believed to be orchestrated by Hamas. Furthermore, Hamas spokesman Husam Badran insisted this morning that “all attacks (last week) were coordinated” with Hamas, and that the so-called Islamic resistance groups “stand united.” Badran further underscored that the relationship between Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad “is stable, strong and based on shared values.” He claimed that the “shared headquarters (of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad) conducted the fighting wisely,” while insisting that “Netanyahu achieved nothing.”