JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shot back at critics who said his government has failed to take action to stop rocket fire from Gaza on southern Israel.
“Israel views Hamas as responsible for any firing at us from the Gaza Strip. Since we destroyed the terrorist tunnel that penetrated into our territory several weeks ago, the IDF has attacked approximately 40 Hamas targets including an additional attack by the air force last night,” Netanyahu said at the start of Sunday’s regular Cabinet meeting.
Netanyahu was referring to an Israel Defense Forces strike on Saturday night on a Hamas observation post in the southern Gaza Strip. It was the second retaliatory strike on Hamas in Gaza for three rockets fired as southern Israel late Friday morning. Two of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile protection system. One of the rockets disrupted a memorial concert near Kibbutz Kfar Aza marking the 24th birthday of slain Israeli soldier Oron Shaul, who was killed in the 2014 Gaza War and whose remains are held by Hamas in Gaza.
Labor party leader Avi Gabbay on Saturday night criticized Netanyahu for failing to stop the rocket fire and for not taking stronger action against Gaza.
Netanyahu also said at the beginning of Sunday’s Cabinet meeting: “To all those who are carping in the media, people who never held security responsibility for even a minute and never made even one security decision, I suggest that they calm down. The Defense Minister and I, along with the Chief-of-Staff, the head of the ISA and the heads of the security services are leading a vigorous and responsible policy that is backed by this government, a policy that has – in recent years – made Israel quieter and more secure than it has been in decades. Attempts to attack us have not ceased, but our policy is clear – whoever tries to hurt us, we will hurt them.”
Gabbay served in an intelligence unit during his regular army service. He has an MBA from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
The rockets that have been fired from Gaza over the last three weeks reportedly are not being fired by Hamas, but by smaller Gaza terror organizations. Still, the government and the IDF hold Hamas responsible for all terror activities in the coastal strip.
Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Saturday night in an interview with Hadashot news said the mortars that were fired at Israel on Friday morning originated in Iran and were provided by the Islamic State to small terror groups in Gaza.