IDF general: A few Gaza rockets don’t warrant major conflict

Military’s top commander in south says Hamas making efforts to curb fire; Israel to reopen crossings

Head of the IDF Southern Command, Sami Turgeman (YouTube screen capture/IDF)
Head of the IDF Southern Command, Sami Turgeman (YouTube screen capture/IDF)

Israel will not engage in a large-scale confrontation in the Gaza Strip over a small number of rockets fired from the Palestinian territory, IDF Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman said Sunday, according to Ynet news.

In a meeting with the heads of local councils in the Gaza periphery, the military commander said Israel would know how to deal with the isolated incidents of rocket-fire.

He added that Israeli intel showed Hamas was making real efforts to prevent rocket attacks, as it was interested in maintaining the calm along the border. He noted that Israel still holds Hamas responsible for any launch, as the rulers of the Palestinian territory.

Israel was expected to reopen the the Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings between Israel and Gaza on Monday. The crossings were closed on Sunday, with an exception for medical emergencies and humanitarian aid, after a rocket attack Saturday evening.

The White House said Sunday it supports Israel’s right to defend itself after Israel retaliated for strikes on the country from Gaza.

“Clearly the US stands with the people of Israel as they defend their people and their nation against these kind of attacks,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Sunday in Germany, where the G7 summit of the world’s economic powers is being held.

Rockets were fired from Gaza at southern Israel on Saturday evening — the third attack in two weeks. In response, the Israel Defense Forces struck what it called in a statement “terror infrastructure” in the northern Gaza Strip.

On Sunday morning, before the US statement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the international community’s failure to speak out against the renewed rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel.

“I have not heard anyone in the international community condemn this firing; neither has the UN said a word,” he said at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting. “It will be interesting if this silence continues when we use our full strength to uphold our right to defend ourselves.

Last summer, Israel launched a 50-day military operation to stop rocket fire from the Gaza. Some 2,200 people, mostly Palestinians, were killed in the warfare. Israel said half of the Gaza dead were combatants, and blamed Hamas for all civilian fatalities, since the terror group emplaced its war machine in residential areas.

JTA contributed to this report.

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