Israel should “shut off the electricity in the West Bank and Gaza” in response to rocket fire in the south and the abduction of three Israeli teens earlier this month, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon said Sunday.
“In my opinion there is room for extensive actions against the civilian population,” Danon said in an interview with Radio Darom. “I am saying something harsh here, but I believe it.
“We must change the way of life for the residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Shut off the power for a few days and you’ll see that suddenly all the world leaders will come and ask: ‘Why did you turn off the power?’ And then maybe we can tell them: ‘Sorry, didn’t you know three teenagers were kidnapped?’”
The West Bank and Gaza Strip rely on the Israel Electric Corporation for their electricity.
Since the June 12 kidnapping of Naftali Fraenkel, 16, Gil-ad Shaar, 16, and Eyal Yifrach, 19, who were last seen at a hitchhiking post south of Jerusalem, thousands of Israeli troops have searched hundreds of locations in the West Bank and arrested more than 350 Palestinians, many of them members of the Hamas organization which Israel blames for the abduction. Four Palestinians, including a 14-year-old boy, have also been killed in clashes with the IDF. Officials have also said one of the aims of the operation is smash Hamas terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank.
At the same time, the last 10 days have seen an uptick in tit-for-tat Gazan rocket fire and Israeli strikes. Most recently, Israel struck several terrorist targets in Gaza on Sunday in response to several rockets fired from Gaza the day before. A hand-grenade-wielding Palestinian man was also arrested early Sunday morning after he broke through the security fence from Gaza and tried to infiltrate an Israeli community.
While Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has condemned the kidnapping and pledged PA cooperation in the search, on Thursday he also condemned the continuing arrests of Hamas operatives and closures in the West Bank as an infliction of “collective punishment” on the Palestinians.
On Sunday Abbas called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to condemn the the shooting of four Palestinians in clashes with Israeli forces. Netanyahu said that the deaths were not intentional and that the soldiers had acted in self defense under life-threatening conditions.
On Friday Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Robert Serry urged Israel to show restraint and carry out the operation in compliance with international law while respecting the lives, dignity and livelihoods of Palestinians.
“[Israel] should thus seek to minimize the impact of security operations on individuals who have committed no offense and investigate allegations of excessive use of force, including the killing of civilians,” he said.
Times of Israel staff and AP contributed to this report.