Netanyahu: Ready to Land 'Crushing Blow' on Gaza if Aggression Continues

After recent uptick in rocket fire from Strip, defense minister warns 'No one will be immune from Israel's future actions'

Netanyahu speaks at a press conference, November 20, 2019
Ohad Zwigenberg

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel would not agree to any aggression emanating from the Gaza Strip, and is prepared to hit the enclave with a 'crushing blow.'

Netanyahu made his remarks during the weekly government meeting following the violent escalation between Israel and Gaza last week, in which several rockets were launched from the Strip at border communities.

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Exchanges of fire between Israel and militants in the Strip have been on the rise since the presentation of U.S. President Donald Trump's peace plan for the Middle East. 

The premier added that Israel "is powerful," and still hasn't demonstrated all of its capabilities.  

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said while touring the Gaza Division that the "Reckless conduct of Hamas leaders in Gaza is pushing us to carry out a lethal attack on the Strip," without saying when and where.

"No one will be immune from Israel's future actions," the defense minister said, adding that those "actions will differ from those taken in the past.

In addition, Bennett said that Hamas can opt between a life of prosperity or resorting to terror, which "will exert a heavy price."

Hamas Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum responded to Netanyahu's threat, calling it a "desperate attempt to petrify the Palestinian people and resistance forces in order to distract from his past failed attempts, his crimes in the West Bank and his domestic crises."

According to Barhoum, who spoke to reporters in Gaza Sunday afternoon, Israel's aggression is relentless, but such threats will not faze the Palestinian people. He also warned Israel against foolish behavior.

The Islamic Jihad in Gaza responded to Netanyahu's statements Sunday, saying its militant forces will not hesitate to respond to Israeli attacks, as "The Palestinian people have the right to defend themselves and their land against Israeli terrorism."

The Israeli government decided Sunday to install security cameras and set up a fence surrounding Ashkelon's industrial area to prevent perpetrators from infiltrating into Israel from Gaza.

The government will allocate 35 million shekels to renovate 60 bomb shelters in Ashkelon, purchase equipment for emergency depots and install cameras to locate Gaza rockets exploding in open areas.

On Saturday, Israeli tanks shelled two Hamas military posts in the northern Gaza Strip, in retaliation for a rocket launched toward Israel, the Israeli army said. The tit-for-tat followed a day of relative calm. 

Palestinian factions have launched rockets and explosive-laden balloons toward Israel over the last ten days, to which the IDF responded by targeting Hamas positions near the security fence as well as infrastructure targets such as terror tunnels, arms depots and so forth that are hit during selective strikes.

On Wednesday, Israel reduced Gaza's fishing zone from 10 to 15 nautical miles saying it was in response to increased militant activity against Israel originating from the strip.