Former Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman yesterday warned that the next confrontation with the Gaza Strip must be the last.
"For nearly a year, since the [Great March of Return] started along the Gaza Strip border fence, the most volatile Israeli border [has been] the one it shares with the Gaza Strip," Lieberman said. He then explained that the military intelligence assessment published on Wednesday- which indicated that Israel is likely to face a major escalation with the Palestinians in Gaza or the West Bank within the next 12 months – is consistent with his assessment over the past year.
"The question now is not whether there will be another confrontation with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, but when will that happen," he added.
Lieberman said he believed the Israeli government is responsible for "strengthening" the Palestinian resistance factions by not launching a war on the already-besieged Gaza Strip and by easing sanctions against it.
READ: Hamas asks UN to pressure Israel to commit to truce
According to Lieberman, the transfer of funds and fuel to the Gaza Strip and expanding the fishing area all contribute to strengthening Hamas at both the military and civilian levels, and increase popular support for it in the occupied West Bank and Gaza.
"We must strike a hard and disproportionate blow on Hamas – completely break their willpower to continue to fight against us and destroy their belief that they could ever defeat us," he added.
Meanwhile, Israel Hayom yesterday revealed a plan announced by the Chief of General Staff of the Israeli Army, General Aviv Kochavi, aimed at improving the Israeli army's operational readiness in the Gaza Strip, at the expense of other sectors.
Gaza "will be the most explosive in the coming months" the newspaper quoted Kochavi as saying.
READ: Extent of Israel attacks on Gaza fishermen revealed