As ceasefire goes into effect, Netanyahu says Gaza campaign not over
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As ceasefire goes into effect, Netanyahu says Gaza campaign not over

PM says Israel hit terror groups ‘with great force,’ is readying for next round of fighting; Hamas: Conflict ‘will not end until we regain our rights’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu receives a mandate to form a government, April 17, 2019. (GPO screenshot)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu receives a mandate to form a government, April 17, 2019. (GPO screenshot)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday commented on reports of an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire deal in Gaza, after two days of fighting in which four Israelis were killed, saying that Israel was readying for further confrontations with terrorist groups in the coastal enclave.

“Over the past two days, we have hit Hamas and Islamic Jihad with great force, attacking over 350 targets and terrorist leaders and activists, and destroying terrorist infrastructure,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

“The campaign is not over and requires patience and judgment. We are preparing to continue,” the prime minister added. “The goal was and remains to ensure the peace and security of the residents of the south. I send condolences to the families and wish a speedy recovery for the wounded.”

A spokesperson for Hamas similarly said, in response to the prime minister’s statement, that although the recent flareup in violence had come to an end, the wider conflict would continue.

“The resistance managed to deter the IDF,” said Sami Abu Zuhri, according to the Kan public broadcaster, referring to the Gaza terror groups. “Our message is that this round is over, but the conflict will not end until we regain our rights.”

The scene of a car hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip near the Israel-Gaza border on May 5, 2019. (Noam Rivkin Fenton/Flash90)

The ceasefire between Israel and the Gaza terror groups went into effect at 4:30 a.m. Monday, according to the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups, ending two days of intense fighting that saw more than 600 rockets fired at Israel and four Israeli civilians killed.

Over two days, in response to the rocket fire, the Israeli military conducted hundreds of strikes from the air and land, including one highly unusual targeted killing of a terrorist operative who the IDF said funneled money from Iran to terror groups in the Strip.

Palestinian medical officials reported 29 dead since Friday, including at least 11 terrorists, The Times of Israel confirmed.

A picture taken in Gaza city on May 5, 2019 shows rockets fired toward Israel from the Gaza Strip. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

The Israeli government refused to confirm the reported truce, apparently so as to avoid publicly acknowledging its negotiations with terrorist groups. However, the military announced that, as of 7 a.m., it was lifting all security restrictions that had been in place in the south during the fighting, and that schools would be allowed to open, indicating that a ceasefire had indeed been reached.

The ceasefire was criticized Monday morning by opposition parties, as well as by one senior member of the prime minister’s Likud party. MK Gideon Sa’ar, a political rival of the prime minister, said the terms of the agreement hold little to no benefit for Israel and will not prevent future violence.

“The circumstances in which the ceasefire was reached are very lacking for Israel,” Sa’ar posted on Twitter, in a rare implicit criticism of Netanyahu from within his own party.

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, a former IDF chief of staff, laid the blame for the rocket onslaught from the Gaza Strip over the past two days at the government’s door.

Blue and White party head Benny Gantz at a press conference at party headquarters in Tel Aviv, April 10, 2019 (Flash90)

“Nearly 700 projectiles were launched at Israeli territory, four were killed and many are wounded,” Gantz said in a statement. “All of this is the result of losing our deterrence, and it’s ending with another surrender to blackmail from Hamas and other terrorist groups.”

“All the government has done is, once again, led us to the next confrontation,” he charged.

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