Israel, Egypt Call for Restraint in Gaza

YERUSHALAYIM -
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkott speaks at a conference at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya on Tuesday. (Flash90)

Senior Israeli military and civilian leaders, as well as counterparts in Egypt, drove home on Tuesday the message that vigilance was necessary in keeping the Gaza front from erupting into war.

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot rejected calls for a more aggressive policy aimed at stopping the sporadic rocket attacks from Gaza terrorists on southern Israel:

“I hear irresponsible calls to react with maximum force to rockets fired from Gaza. It’s not the right thing to do,” he told a conference at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya on Tuesday. Eisenkot said Israel exacts a price from Hamas for the firing of every rocket, but cautioned against overreaction. “We apply varying degrees of force,” he said.

“There are two million residents in Gaza in a very crowded space, and we don’t need to rush into anything. We have the tools to carry out any operation and to achieve our goals in Gaza, but you need to understand the complicated situation in Gaza. Our goal is to maintain the status quo. We are also committed not to arrive at a situation of economic and humanitarian collapse,” he said.

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman took the same position over Army Radio on Monday: “Israel’s interest is in the international community paying full attention to Iran and not in launching a military campaign in Gaza. All the Salafis want is to drag us into a general campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. By the way, some of the opposition leaders want the same thing.”

Egyptian officials have sent messages to both Israel and Hamas in recent days, also urging restraint, according to Haaretz.

The Egyptians reportedly argued that Fatah is carefully monitoring Israeli reaction to Hamas efforts to prevent rocket fire by other groups in Gaza. They said it would likely be weighed in their decision as to whether to accept responsibility in the future for security control of Gaza.

Palestinian Authority officials will not be willing to assume that responsibility if IDF retaliation threatens to disrupt their attempt to take control in Gaza.

Approximately 40 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza since the President Donald Trump’s recognition of Yerushalayim as Israel’s capital last month.