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Gantz urges Gaza reconstruction to be coordinated via Palestinian Authority

Defense Minister Benny Gantz, during a press conference in Tel Aviv, April 22, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz, during a press conference in Tel Aviv, April 22, 2021. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz calls for Israel to strengthen the Palestinian Authority and direct Gaza reconstruction efforts through it, rather than through Hamas, which rules the enclave, as Israel looks to stave off future rounds of conflict in the Strip.

However, Gantz says Israel will not permit a full reconstruction of Gaza until Hamas returns two Israeli civilians and the remains of two soldiers that have been held captive by the terror group for over six years.

“The most desirable change in my view is to strengthen the Palestinian Authority as much as possible,” Gantz tells reporters, “and not to let Hamas be the one that sets the agenda, not in the area of the Gaza Strip or in Gaza itself.”

Asked if this represents the view of only himself or if it is also the opinion of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Gantz says it is the former.

“I don’t know what Netanyahu thinks,” he says.

Gantz also stresses the importance of responding more forcefully, if and when Hamas chooses to strike Israel, though the defense minister acknowledges that this would not mean retaliating to every single act of aggression from the Strip. He also advocates Israel initiating strikes against Hamas in some cases.

Gantz says it is impossible to keep Hamas from rebuilding by taking advantage of “dual-use” materials like cement. “I am not naïve about the fact that some of the materials that will go in, even after we supervise them, will ultimately be used by Hamas.”

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