Israel's Foreign Minister Hails 'Success' in Hamas Staying Out of Gaza Fighting

'The new rules of the game are clear – the army has complete freedom to act,' says newly-appointed Defense Minister Bennett

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens to Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem October 27, 2019.
Gali Tibbon/Pool via REUTERS

Hamas' non-involvement in the latest Gaza flare-up is an achievement for Israel, Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz said on Thursday, hours after a fragile cease-fire was reached between Israel and the Islamic Jihad.

"There could be overlapping interests," Katz said during an interview to Army Radio. "The moment Hamas did not join in there is definitely a matter of success here," he added.

The cease-fire was reached after two days of fighting which saw hundreds of rockets fired at Israel, extensive Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip and 32 Palestinians killed, including Islamic Jihad operatives and civilians.

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Katz stressed Israel's "aggressive" policy and said Israel will continue to target anyone who is about to carry out a terror attack. "Islamic Jihad is an Iranian body…operated through Damascus and Baha Abu al-Ata [the senior Islamic Jihad commander whom Israel assassinated on Tuesday] in order to orchestrate violence and harm the State of Israel."

Newly-appointed Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said that "some 20 terrorists were killed in the past 48 hours, but it's not over yet. Only actions on the ground will determine [the future]."

Bennett stressed that "the new rules of the game are clear: The army will have complete freedom of action, with no restrictions. A terrorist, who tries to hurt Israel's civilians, won't be able to sleep in peace."

An Israeli official said Thursday that Jerusalem has "achieved the objectives of the operation in Gaza, including significantly harming Islamic Jihad, destroying infrastructure, and liquidating over than 20 terrorists." Israel won't shift its policy of hurting those who hurt us, said the official. 

UN Mideast envoy Nickolay Mladenov said that the "United Nations and Egypt worked hard to prevent the most dangerous escalation in an around Gaza from leading to war. The coming hours and days will be critical. All must show maximum restraint and do their part to prevent bloodshed. The Middle East does not need more wars."