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Senior Netanyahu aide: Israel to carry out preemptive strikes on Hamas

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C), Cabinet Secretary Tzahi Braverman (R) and Israeli Minister of Regional Cooperation Tzachi Hanegbi (L) attend the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, on December 29, 2019 [ABIR SULTAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C), Cabinet Secretary Tzahi Braverman (R) and Israeli Minister of Regional Cooperation Tzachi Hanegbi (L) attend the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, on December 29, 2019 [ABIR SULTAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images]

Israeli Settlement Minister Tzachi Hanegbi has said that Israel will carry out preemptive strikes on Hamas, the Times of Israel reported.

Hanegbi, who is a senior aide to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told Channel 13 that Israel will stop waiting for Hamas to restock its rocket arsenal.

"We cannot wait for rocket fire [to respond in Gaza]," Hanegbi said, stressing: "This is a total change of the equation. We've never done this."

"The State of Israel has tolerated, over the years — during the decade of Netanyahu's rule and also before — the strengthening of Hamas, and this was, without a doubt, a mistake," he said, adding that Israel will rectify this with its new security policy.

He also said that Israel is considering removing Hamas from Gaza, but said this would be Israel's "last option" because it would incur a "high cost".

READ: Israel destroyed Gaza yet failed stop Hamas rockets

Meanwhile, he said he expects that the offensive on Gaza would bring calm to Israel for 15 years.

"I am very optimistic. I don't know if it'll be 15 years, maybe more," he said, adding that the 15-year assessment is based on the years of quiet on Israel's northern border following the 2006 war on Lebanon.

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