Liberman: ‘Only a matter of time’ before more rocket attacks from Gaza
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Liberman: ‘Only a matter of time’ before more rocket attacks from Gaza

Former defense minister says ‘defense is not bought with Qatari money’ transferred to Hamas, warns terror leaders feel ‘immune’

Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman speaks at the Globes Business Conference in Jerusalem on December 19, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman speaks at the Globes Business Conference in Jerusalem on December 19, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Former defense minister Avigdor Liberman warned Saturday that it was only “a matter of time” before more rockets rain down upon southern Israel from Gaza, a day after a rocket was launched from the Strip after a six-week lull.

“Defense is not bought with Qatari money,” the Yisrael Beytenu party head wrote on twitter, referencing Israel allowing millions of dollars in Qatari funds to enter the Strip in monthly installments, as part of an unofficial truce between Israel and the Gaza-based terror group Hamas.

“With Hamas leaders feeling immune and full of confidence, it’s only a matter of time before we get more and more rockets in the south,” he said.

Liberman resigned from the government following a November flareup, when Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups in Gaza engaged in the heaviest battle with Israel since the 2014 war.

He said at the time that he had been blocked from a harsher response to the Gaza violence, and claimed the government had handed Hamas a victory.

Palestinians run during clashes with Israeli forces across the border fence, east of Gaza City, on December 28, 2018. (Mahmud Hams/AFP)

On Saturday the Israeli army said a combat helicopter attacked a Hamas position in the southern Gaza Strip in response to the earlier rocket launch — a single rocket fired into Israel late Friday.

The Red Alert warning system was not activated as the projectile landed in an open area. No injuries or damage were reported.

Earlier Friday, a Palestinian was reported killed as thousands took part in protests along the border with the Gaza Strip, amid threats by terror factions in the coastal enclave to ramp up violence with Israel.

An Israeli army spokesperson said some 4,000 Palestinians took part in the riots, throwing rocks and explosive devices at soldiers. The explosives did not reach the border fence where troops were deployed.

Israeli forces responded with riot dispersal means, including live fire, the spokesperson said.

Also Friday, a suspected incendiary device landed near a kindergarten in a Gaza-area community in Israel after a lull of several weeks for the airborne arson attempts from the coastal enclave.

In the past months, Gaza protesters have launched hundreds of incendiary kites and balloons into Israel, sparking fires that have destroyed forests, burned crops, and killed livestock. Over 7,000 acres of land have been burned, causing millions of shekels in damages, according to Israeli officials. Some balloons have carried improvised explosive devices.

Suspected incendiary balloons discovered in community close to the Gaza border, December 28, 2018. (Police spokesperson’s unit)

Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had issued a warning to the rulers of the Strip amid a spike in terror attacks in the West Bank. “I conveyed a clear message to Hamas — we won’t accept a situation of a truce in Gaza and terror in Judea and Samaria,” he told a cabinet meeting, using the biblical name for the West Bank.

Friday’s rocket fire came more than six weeks after Hamas and Palestinian terror groups in Gaza engaged in the heaviest battle with Israel since the 2014 war.

After an Israeli special forces operation in Gaza was exposed, and an Israeli soldier and seven Hamas gunmen were killed in the ensuing firefight, some 500 rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israel over the course of November 12-13 — more than twice the rate at which they were launched during the 2014 conflict.

The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted over 100 of them. Most of the rest landed in open fields, but dozens landed inside Israeli cities and towns, killing one person, injuring dozens and causing significant property damage.

In response, the Israeli military said it targeted approximately 160 sites in the Gaza Strip connected to the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups, including four facilities that the army designated as “key strategic assets.”

The fighting ended on Tuesday, November 13, after a Hamas-announced ceasefire took effect, though this was not officially confirmed by Israel.

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