Education Minister Naftali Bennett was the second top government official to hint on Tuesday that war with Hamas was near. On a visit to the Gaza border fence area, Bennett said that “the dangers from Gaza and Lebanon are increasing, and as to the next round of war, the question is not if, but when. This time we must win, not leave things at a stalemate, as we have until now, but we must have a complete victory in order to prevent another repeat of war later on.”
Bennett was in the area to participate in a memorial service for Ella Abukasis, Hy”d, a student at a school in Sdot Negev who was killed 12 years ago in a rocket attack. She was 17 when she was killed, placing herself in the path of a rocket to protect her 10-year-old brother.
Earlier, MK Yoav Galant, a member of the Security Cabinet, said that Israel would be forced to fight another round of war in Gaza – as early as springtime, he told Army Radio Tuesday. “Rocket attacks on Israel harm our sovereignty and potentially can hurt or kill people,” Gallant said. “We cannot and will not let these attacks slide, and we will respond to them with all our might. Will this lead to an increase in tensions? I believe it will, and we will eventually find ourselves in another round of fighting. I believe we will have to prepare ourselves for this eventuality as soon as the coming spring.”
Both ministers spoke a day after the IDF conducted extensive attacks on Hamas infrastructure in Gaza, in response to a rocket that was fired at southern Israel earlier Monday. In his comments, Bennett said that Israel “cannot be the only country in the world where children cannot walk down the street without worrying that a missile will fall on [them]. Our enemies are investing all their resources in developing ways to kill us. Instead of investing in life, they invest in building an infrastructure of death. Only with a complete victory can we put an end to this cycle.”
In a message to Hamas, the IDF said that it was not interested in exacerbating tensions, but that Israel would not tolerate such attacks, Israel Radio reported. In a statement, Hamas said that the terror group “is committed to maintaining calm, but Israel is attempting to push us and test the limits of our patience.” The terror group warned against “the continued attacks against our institutions and infrastructure in Gaza.”