Ministers Warn Hamas of New Deterrence Policies

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli Minister of Finance Yisrael Katz. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The shooting in Gaza has stopped for now, but the rhetoric of war and deterrence has not.

Finance Minister Yisrael Katz warned on Sunday that any violation of the ceasefire on the part of Hamas will trigger targeted strikes aimed at killing its leaders.

Katz told Army Radio that even in the event of an accidental launch, Hamas’s Gaza governor Yahya Sinwar and the head of its military wing Muhammad Deif, will have “their heads will be cut off.”

Katz added that rocket fire on the southern cities of Sderot and Ashkelon— both major targets during the past 11 days of fighting — will from here on be considered no different from rocket fire at Tel Aviv.

“The moment there is fire on any community, we will retaliate with full force, even if we know it’ll lead to fire at Tel Aviv,” he said.

Katz’s comments were preceded by those of Likud minister Tzachi Hanegbi, a close ally of Prime Minister Netanyahu, announcing a new policy of preemptive airstrikes.

Hanegbi told Channel 13: “We cannot wait for rocket fire [to respond in Gaza]. From now on, he said, the terror groups’ rearmament and preparations to fire rockets, rather than the actual firing, will be considered “cause for Israeli strikes” on military targets in Gaza.

“This is a total change of the equation. We’ve never done this,” he said.

“The state of Israel has tolerated, over the years — during the decade of Netanyahu’s rule and also before — the strengthening of Hamas, and this was, without a doubt, a mistake,” he said, that it must be prevented from happening again.

He was optimistic, though, about the benefits of the recent operations:

“I’m very optimistic. I don’t know if it’ll be 15 years, maybe more,” he said, explaining that the 15-year assessment is based on the years of quiet on Israel’s northern border following the 2006 war with the Hezbollah terror group.