During a visit to Kibbutz Or Haner, approximately 3 kilometers from the Gaza border, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beitenu) threatened bloody reprisals if Israel were to be attacked from Gaza.
”If we have Color Red here, Gaza will turn deep red, too,” Lieberman said, referring to the rocket warning system that operates across the western Negev.
“We would prefer not to be dragged into war, and we’re doing everything we can to avoid a large operation, but the ball is not in our court. I highly recommend Hamas be wise about it,” he said.
Commenting on the residents’ criticism that Israel’s response to Hamas violence is not sufficiently forceful, Lieberman said, “I think we are mounting a forceful response. Do things need to go to the next level? Probably, but at the end of the day, our responsibility is to deal with all threats at all times, to ensure the normal routine here – and everywhere else.
Channel 10 News reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu informed senior cabinet ministers that a new initiative to resolve the humanitarian crisis in Gaza was in the works with the aim of facilitating a stable cease-fire.
Hadashot evening news reported that the recent flare-ups on the Gaza border have prompted Lieberman to propose dealing Hamas a more crippling blow, but Netanyahu opposed the move.
Meanwhile, after a few relatively calm days, Palestinian arson terrorism raged again over the weekend, as 28 fires were sparked in Israeli communities near the border by incendiary balloons.
The terrorist arson campaign, launched in late April, has so far decimated nearly 10,000 acres of forest and farmlands on the Israeli side of the border. Incendiary kites and balloons have caused millions of dollars in damage to the area over the past three months and environmental experts say it will take at least 15 years to rehabilitate the vegetation and wildlife that have been destroyed.
Two Palestinians, a 34-year-old man and a 14-year-old boy, were killed Friday and 150 were wounded in a riot near the Israel-Gaza Strip border, Palestinian media reported over the weekend.
According to the Israeli military, some 7,000 Palestinians took part in border demonstrations. Troops opened fire to ward off rioters who threw rocks and firebombs and rolled burning tires at the security fence in attempts to sabotage it.