Naftali Bennett warned Hamas on Sunday that the Gaza Strip will have to get used to a new reality, just a week after he was sworn in as prime minister and amid renewed tensions with the enclave.
Speaking at a memorial ceremony for soldiers killed during the 2014 war in Gaza, Bennett said that Gaza will “have to get used to a different Israeli approach – one of initiative, decisiveness and suspicion.”
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Bennett went on to say that “our enemies will learn the rules – we won’t tolerate violence, we won’t tolerate trickles (of rocket), we won’t understand or accept ‘rebels,’” he added, referring to fact that Hamas, the militant organization that rules the Strip, often blames occasional rocket fire on groups that “rebel” against its authority.
During the ceremony at Jerusalem’s Mount Herzl cemetery, Bennett also said Hamas had been holding the bodies of Israeli soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul who were killed in the Gaza 2014 war “for seven years too long.”
Bennett promised that his government would do everything in its power to get the soldiers' bodies back, as well as the two Israeli civilians Hamas is holding captive in Gaza– Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed.
Also speaking at the ceremony, Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that Israel should use its "military achievements for political gains" after the latest fighting with Gaza.
"We are working to bring about a long-term peace, to strengthen moderate figures, especially the Palestinian Authority, to bring our boys home and to create a better reality for our neighbors in Gaza. If they want to change their situation, this is the way to do it."
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Last week, shortly after Bennett's new government was sworn in, Palestinians launched incendiary balloons at Israel from Gaza. In response, the army attacked Hamas military targets in the Strip, a slightly harsher response than Israel generally makes to such balloons.
Palestinians then responded with machine gun fire, according to the Israel Defense Forces, resulting in the first rocket siren in the south since the last round of fighting in Gaza ended a month ago. As a result, IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi ordered the army to prepare for the possibility of renewed fighting.