Israeli Cabinet ministers warn of possible escalation in Gaza


(JTA) — Two Israeli Cabinet ministers warned of a possible escalation along Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett said Tuesday that a conflict in Gaza is a “matter of when, not if,” The Times of Israel reported. And in an interview the same day with Army Radio, Housing Minister Yoav Galant, a former general and head of the army’s Southern Command, said Hamas “might … be drawn to escalation in the spring or the summer.”

The comments followed a day of tensions in Gaza, beginning with an early morning rocket launch from the coastal territory that landed near the Israeli city of Ashkelon, causing no injuries. Later in the day, an Israeli patrol came under fire near the Gaza border. In response, Israel struck several Hamas positions from the air and with tank shells.

“We have no interest in an escalation of violence, but are determined to fulfill our obligation and protect the people of Israel from attacks originating in Gaza,” Israel Defense Forces spokesman Peter Lerner told The Times of Israel.

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