Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday he believed in a policy of “zero” tolerance for rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip and Syria, no matter how sporadic.
“My policy is zero spillover,” he told cadets at the National Defense College, an academic institution which trains high-ranking defense officials in national security fields.
“There’s no tolerance for spillover, no ‘drip-drip’ [of rockets] — they get hit immediately” in response to attacks, he said. “That hasn’t always been the policy, but this policy is proving itself.”
“Drizzle” is a term often used in Israel to describe the infrequent rocket attacks that have been the norm along the Gaza frontier in the years since the Israeli pullout, even during times of relative peace. “Spillover” is used to refer to intermittent rocket strikes in Israel’s north, as an unintended result of years-long fighting between the Syrian regime and rebel forces along the border.
Netanyahu added that “In a small country like Israel one thing is certain: We must maintain our ability to defend, and our ability to attack and deter, which is the basis for our defense capability.”
“At least in our region, the probability of the weak surviving is not high. The strong survive,” he said. “So the basic condition for the existence of a nation such as our own…is to be strong and not weak.”
Last week, Netanyahu credited Israel’s policy of targeting Hamas sites in the Gaza Strip in response to any aggression coming from the territory with preventing additional attacks.
“It doesn’t matter who did it. It matters who didn’t stop it,” Netanyahu said, referring to Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
Since the 2014 Gaza war, Hamas has largely prevented other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip from carrying out attacks, leading to one of the quietest periods between Israel and the coastal enclave since the 1967 Six Day War, according to Israeli statistics on terror attacks.
“This isn’t about [Hamas] loving us, but about loving itself,” Netanyahu said.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.