Mansour Abbas denied on Saturday that the reason the government did not respond militarily to the firing of two rockets from Gaza at Israel last week was pressure from Ra’am, saying his Islamist party poses no threat to national security.
“It’s a cheap political shot to use issues of security and human life to slam the opposite political side,” Abbas told Channel 12, referring to the claims. “Since the formation of this government there have been attempts to attack and dismantle it, focusing on the seemingly weak point of Ra’am.”
Abbas and his party have repeatedly come under attack from the opposition, despite multiple attempts by then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to woo him amid his own attempts to establish a governing coalition.
“Ra’am will not directly or indirectly harm state security,” Abbas said. “We have a responsible dialogue with the prime minister and the alternate prime minister. Whether they do or do not respond in Gaza is at the discretion of the prime minister and those responsible for [that area]. I did not talk to the prime minister on this issue — I am focused on advancing the civil issues facing Arab society.”
The comments made by Abbas were in reference to the rocket fire last week, rather than the shooting of an Israeli soldier on Saturday, which prompted airstrikes on targets in Gaza.
Palestinian terrorists fired two rockets from the Gaza Strip toward the town of Sderot on Monday afternoon in what was apparently the first such attack since May’s 11-day conflict in the Palestinian enclave. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted one of the rockets, while the second landed inside the Gaza Strip.
A Channel 12 news report on Tuesday said that Israel avoided responding militarily to the rocket fire due to sensitive ongoing negotiations with Hamas that have the potential to reach a breakthrough.
According to the report, which did not cite a source, there was a possibility of a deal that would allow Qatari funds to enter Gaza and could include the release of Israelis being held by Hamas.
However, faction leaders in the Gaza Strip threatened to escalate with Israel unless their conditions were met and on Saturday a Border Police officer, Barel Hadaria Shmueli, 21, from Be’er Yaakov in central Israel was shot in the head at point-blank range during major clashes along the Gaza border.
In the attack on Shmueli, as seen in video footage widely shared on social media, a man with a pistol ran up to a small hole in the concrete wall along the Gaza border that Shmueli was using as a shooting position and fired a number of shots through it, hitting the border guard.
Later Saturday, the IDF carried out airstrikes on four Hamas weapons storage sites in Gaza in response to the riots and the attack on Shmueli.
At least 41 rioters were injured by Israeli troops during the hostilities, two of them critically, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. One of the critically hurt Gazans was a 13-year-old boy, Palestinian health officials said.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz told Channel 13 news that Israel “will not tolerate any harm to our forces. The incidents at the fence are grave and we will respond to them.”