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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday that Israel would be taking a series of steps against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, starting with closing the Kerem Shaom Crossing into Israel.
“We intend to immediately wield a heavy hand against Hamas,” Netanyahu told the Likud faction, while vowing additional steps that he said he could not announce yet.
Noting the four-year anniversary of the IDF’s Operation Protective Edge, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman issued a warning to Hamas at his Yisrael Beytenu faction meeting. He said Israel would no longer tolerate provocations at the Gaza border fence or setting fires that enflamed land that he said was the size of the cities of Netanyahu or Rehovot.
“We are not looking for conflict or military adventures, but the conduct of Hamas, it is deteriorating the situation to the point that it might have to pay a much heavier price than it did in Protective Edge,” Liberman said, referring to the operation in which more than 1000 Hamas terrorists were killed.
Earlier, opposition leaders challenged Netanyahu and Liberman to do more to stop incendiary kite and balloon attacks from Gaza.
“The South is on fire and no one is doing anything about it,” Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay said to his faction. “Netanyahu for a long time has been not Mr Security but Mr Microphone.”
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid called for the IDF to be given more leeway and a wider range of tools at its disposal to respond to the attaks.
“If Netanyahu had started dealing with the Gaza problem four years ago, there wouldn’t have been kites, balloons or burnt fields,” Lapid told his faction. “Had he been in the opposition he would be in the Gaza periphery. He hasn’t gone there because he doesn’t care. This is not how our security should be run.”