Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday said Israel will not accept any violation of its sovereignty by terror groups in the Gaza Strip, following a weekend bomb attack along the border on an IDF patrol and an uptick in rocket fire on southern Israel.
“Every act of aggression by terrorist elements will be met met with a firm and powerful response from our side,” Netanyahu said at a dedication ceremony for a new emergency room in a reinforced building at Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center.
“We are reinforcing the hospital because it is our basic obligation to guarantee the safety of our citizens,” Netanyahu said. “That is the primary obligation of any government. But defensive actions do not make offensive actions… unnecessary.”
Four IDF soldiers were injured on Saturday when the improvised explosive device, disguised as a flag, detonated as they were removing it from the Gaza security fence near the city of Khan Younis. It had apparently been placed there during a recent violent demonstration.
In response to that attack, and to a rocket fired from Gaza that hit a home in southern Israel late Saturday night, the IDF conducted a large series of strikes against targets in the Strip, including on an tunnel near the Kerem Shalom border crossing, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said in the Knesset on Monday.
In a separate incident on Saturday night, an IDF tank fired on a group of Palestinians who the army said approached the security fence “in a suspicious manner,” killing two of them and seriously injuring two others.
“When we left Gaza, some people had a glimmer of hope that the other side would choose to lead peaceful lives,” said the prime minister, who had voiced opposition to the 2005 Gaza disengagement at the time but eventually voted for it. “However, it became clear very quickly that those concerned were the realistic ones.”
“The Hamas regime and the other terrorist organizations turned the Gaza Strip into a powder keg,” Netanyahu charged. “We build hospitals while they build terror tunnels and missiles.”
Netanyahu said Israel would not tolerate sporadic rocket fire from Gaza or the planting of IEDs along the border.
“Whoever harms us will be hurt himself. Those who don’t act to calm the situation but choose to fan the flames will bear responsibility,” the prime minister warned.
“We have no desire to disrupt the lives of residents in Gaza, but they should know it is not Israel responsible for their plight. The blame lies solely in the hands of the extremists in charge of the Strip,” Netanyahu added.
“For our part, we will continue to defend the south and strengthen Ashkelon.”