Top Gov’t Official: Expect Another Round of Gaza Fighting in Spring

YERUSHALAYIM -
Minister Yoav Galant. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)

A day after the IDF conducted extensive attacks on Hamas infrastructure in Gaza, Construction and Housing Minister 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. Galant, former IDF Southern Command head, said that Israel could not allow tensions in Gaza to mount, thus encouraging Hamas to see attacking Israel as an easy target.

“Rocket attacks on Israel harm our sovereignty and potentially can hurt or kill people,” Galant 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.”

On Monday, the IDF attacked Gaza numerous times, targeting Hamas infrastructure in northern and southern Gaza, after a rocket was fired at southern Israel earlier Monday. In a message to Hamas, the IDF said it was not interested in exacerbating tensions, but that Israel would not tolerate such attacks, Israel Radio reported. The last major battle between Israel and Hamas was in the summer of 2014, as the IDF launched Operation Protective Edge in response to the firing of thousands of rockets at southern Israel in the previous months, and the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens in June 2014.

On Monday morning, Red Alert siren warnings sounded throughout central Israel, as the Homefront Command tested the system.

Overnight Monday, security officials said they arrested 18 wanted security suspects in other areas in Yehudah and Shomron. The suspects were wanted for participating in rioting and throwing stones and firebombs that endangered Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers. Several of the suspects were also charged with belonging to Hamas. All were being questioned on their activities by security forces.