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Israeli minister warns of next clash with Hamas

Naftali Bennett: 'Only with a total victory over our enemy will we put an end to this'

February 8, 2017 at 1:44 am

Following a tense day of IDF air and tank strikes in response to a rocket attack from the Strip last Monday, Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett said on Tuesday that the next round of fighting with Hamas is only a matter of time, Haaretz reported.

Speaking at a ceremony in Sderot city in southern Israel commemorating the death of an Israeli student killed by Hamas rocket fire in 2005, Bennett said, “Today we are still being threatened by Gaza; they are still trying to hurt us”.

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“The threats are increasing, from Lebanon to Gaza”, Bennett warned, noting that the “next round of fighting is a question of when, not if, and this time we must be decisive and win, not end it in a draw, so as not to have another round after that”.

Referring to the anticipated war in Gaza, the Israeli minister added:

Only with a total victory over our enemy will we put an end to this

On a similar topic, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) has sought to calm some of the tensions surrounding the Gaza Strip, adding that it had no interest in further conflict on the southern front.

“We have no interest in an escalation of violence, but are determined to fulfil our obligation and protect the people of Israel from attacks originating in Gaza”, Israeli army spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told The Times of Israel on Tuesday.

A senior Hamas official, Salah Bardawil, said Tuesday that “Hamas is committed to calming the situation and Israel is trying with its escalation to examine our patience and willingness to absorb”.

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On Monday, the IDF launched a series of strikes against Hamas positions in Gaza after a rocket was fired earlier in the day into Israel, and also in response to “other events over the last months”, according to the army.

In response, a senior Hamas spokesman, Hazem Qassem, warned about “further aggression against Hamas’ institutions and infrastructure in the Gaza Strip”. He called on regional and international authorities to curb Israel’s “aggression”.