Netanyahu warns Hamas over uptick in Gaza border violence
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Netanyahu warns Hamas over uptick in Gaza border violence

PM, who is also defense minister, says Palestinian terror group should be aware that ‘any display of aggression will be met with twice as great a response’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the border with Egypt at the southern village of Nitzana in the Negev desert on March 7, 2019. (Jim Hollander/Pool/AFP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the border with Egypt at the southern village of Nitzana in the Negev desert on March 7, 2019. (Jim Hollander/Pool/AFP)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday toured the security fence along the Egyptian border, where he warned the Hamas terror group that Israel would respond harshly to any further violence emanating from the Gaza Strip.

At the Egyptian border, Netanyahu, who is also defense minister, was briefed by army officials and held a discussion with Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces Aviv Kohavi and other top generals on the situation on the Gaza border, which has seen several flare-ups over the past week.

Netanyahu said he was “aware that in the last few days Hamas’s aggression is renewing in all sorts of forms.”

“Hamas should understand that any display of aggression will be met with twice as great a response from the Israeli side,” Netanyahu told reporters.

“It is better they understand this now than afterwards,” he added.

Earlier Thursday, an IDF tank shelled a Hamas post in the northern Gaza Strip after Palestinian gunmen fired on an Israeli military position along the border fence, the army said. No Israeli soldiers were said injured by the gunfire.

Hebrew-language media said the target was an IDF pillbox, which is a concrete structure that offers protection against rifle fire.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh greets supporters during a rally to commemorate the 27th anniversary of the Palestinian terror group, at the main road in Jebaliya in the northern Gaza Strip, on December 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Adel Hana, File)

There were no reports of casualties in the Israeli strike.

The border region has seen increasingly intense bouts of violence over the last several days, with Israel carrying out airstrikes in response to explosives tied to balloons launched from Gaza.

After Netanyahu’s tour of the Egyptian border region, an explosive device attached to balloons launched from Gaza exploded in an open field in the Eshkol Regional Council in Israel, causing no casualties or damage.

During his tour, Netanyahu also hailed the security fence along the border with Egypt, which he has accused his chief election rival Benny Gantz of opposing when it was built, a charge the retired general has denied.

“This fence is a phenomenal success. It has completely stopped the infiltration of hundreds of thousands from Africa and the entrance to Israel of terrorists from the Sinai,” he said.

The 242 kilometer (250 mile) barrier, stretching from the Gaza Strip to the Red Sea resort of Eilat, was completed in 2014.

AFP contributed to this report.

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