Benny Gantz, the leader of Israel's largest opposition party Blue and White (Kahol Lavan), vowed yesterday to "pound Gaza" if he becomes prime minister, reported Haaretz.
According to Gantz – who was commanding the Israeli military during two major offensives in the occupied Gaza Strip in 2012 and 2014 – added that in a future assault he would order a ground invasion of the blockaded enclave, and kill Hamas' leadership.
Describing the comments as marking "a more hawkish line than that taken by his party during the last election campaign", Haaretz said "sources in the party confirmed that it has decided to sharpen its rhetoric regarding defence in an effort to attract right-wing voters".
The Blue and White (Kahol Lavan) leader made the remarks during a visit to the Gaza border area, accompanied by other senior members of the party, including co-leader Yair Lapid, Moshe Ya'alon, and Gabi Ashkenazi.
"We do not intend to let deterrence continue to be eroded; we do not intend to allow this model of another round and another round and another [incendiary] kite and another missiles and another thing to continue," Gantz said.
"The next time something happens here, we will make sure that it's the final round."
According to Haaretz, Gantz said: "Another round of fighting would not end with just an agreement, but with an attempt to fully defeat Hamas militarily," adding that "if another conflict erupts while he is prime minister, the military would move to kill all of Hamas' leadership."
Lapid stated: "Hamas must know that next time they shoot missiles at Israeli citizens, their leaders, under our watch, would not receive suitcases full of dollars – they'll receive a guided missile in their homes."