Due to concern that the appearance of the Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu near the Gaza border could spark an escalation of tensions with Hamas, defense officials cancelled his planned visit there on Tuesday.
Instead, a meeting with officers of the IDF Southern Command which was to have been held at the border base was conducted in Beersheva.
Accompanying Mr. Netanyahu were Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Eisenkot and head of Southern Command Gen. Ayal Zamir.
At a signing ceremony for a master building plan in Beer Yaakov, the prime minister spoke in public for the first time about the Gaza power crisis and threatening statements from Hamas, saying that Israel is not seeking a confrontation and that the electricity shortage is an internal dispute between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
Then Netanyahu spoke about the growth of the town into one of Israel’s larger cities.
“I remember when there were 5,000 residents in Beersheva. Not 5,000 households—5,000 residents! And I knew each one personally.”
Today, as a result of policy decisions taken by his government, the city will soon pass the 100,000 population mark, Netanyahu said.
He praised Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Housing Minister Yoav Galant for working “day and night” to solve the housing problem, and said that we can already see the fruits of their labor.