An Israeli minister has said today that Palestinians who launch kites from Gaza should be assassinated.
Israel's Public Security Minister, Gilad Erdan, made the comments while speaking at an event in the city of Sderot, close to the border with Gaza. Erdan is a member of the ruling Likud party and has previously worked as an advisor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Erdan told his audience that "kite terror is very serious, and whoever sends them should fear for their life." The minister added that "we need to return to preventative assassinations. Those who send the kites and Hamas commanders must be a target for preventative killings," according to Haaretz.
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Israel has accused kites flying from Gaza during the recent Great March of Return of sparking wildfires in southern Israel, although there has been no proof that they have been the cause.
On Sunday, Netanyahu demanded that $1.4 million worth of funds be withheld from the Palestinian Authority (PA) as compensation for damage to crops reportedly caused by the kites. The Israeli government has offered 60 shekels ($17) per dunam (about a quarter acre) in damages to farmers in the region, with anyone whose fields have been damaged are to be considered terrorism victims.
Other Israeli politicians have waded into the debate, with Minister of Defence, Avigdor Lieberman, echoing Erdan's comments. Lieberman said that "it must be clear that we are not prepared to accept the kite routine, no riots on the fence, no attempts to break through the fence and cause damage to projects or sovereign Israeli territory," according to i24News. Lieberman was speaking at a meeting of his Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) party, a right-wing nationalist group popular with Russian immigrants to Israel.
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Erdan also spoke of other threats, saying that "every time they find a new weapon to try to hurt us. Our enemies are trying to damage the civilian resilience because they know they cannot harm the IDF [army], but they won't succeed at this either."
Tensions between Israel and Gaza have been high in recent weeks following the killing of over 120 Palestinians and the injuring of thousands during the Great March of Return. The Israeli army has today again deployed large numbers of troops along its border fence with Gaza in anticipation of protests to mark Naksa Day, the anniversary of Israel's occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights and its annexation of Jerusalem. As yet, protests have not erupted.