Netanyahu: despite rocket attacks, no change to policy on Gaza

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem, on February 12, 2017. Photo by Emil Salman/POOL *** Local Caption *** ????? ????? ?????? ?????? ??? ?????? ????

JERUSALEM—Israel will continue holding Hamas responsible for any attacks against Israel emanating from the Gaza Strip and will retain its policy of of responding to each and every attack, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Cabinet Sunday morning.

Netanyahu’s comments came hours after Israeli jets struck Hamas positions overnight in response to three rockets fired in the direction of the Shaar HaNegev regional council Friday morning as the parents of Sgt. Oron Shaul, an IDF soldier killed in the 2014 Gaza War, marked what would have been his 24th birthday. Two rockets were intercepted and a third damaged a house,  in the first incident in which rockets were fired in daylight hours since 2014.

“Israel sees Hamas as responsible for all rocket fire from the Gaza Strip,” Netanyahu said, noting that the IDF had struck some 40 Hamas targets since the IDF uncovered and destroyed a cross border tunnel from Gaza on October 30.

The Prime Minister hit back at critics of Israel’s policy, saying: “To all those who ridicule us in the press and all those who have never had to bear any responsibility for security matters and have never had to make any decisions on defense, I would advise you to calm down.

“Together with the Chief of Staff, the head of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) and the security forces, I am leading a firm but responsible policy that is backed by this government,” the prime minister continued. “It is a policy that has in recent years made Israel quieter and safer than it has been in decades… Our policy is clear: We will go after anyone who tries to hurt us.”

Meanwhile, Housing Minister Yoav Galant, a former head of the IDF Southern Command, said in an interview with the Ynet website that in view of continued rocket fire against communities in the Gaza periphery, Israel should move to a more proactive policy against terrorist organizations in the Strip.

“We cannot engage in this game of ping-pong. We need to deal a serious blow and adopt a policy of taking out anybody who is about to fire at us,” Galant said. “I suggest we we adopt a more aggressive policy because that is what the other side understands. Strategically, we should aspire to quiet in the Gaza Strip, but that will only be achieved through an adequate response. When Hamas suffers a significant blow, it will rein in whoever needs to be reined in.”

Yossi Lempkowicz :