Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Gen. Benny Gantz last week said that if Israel wants a return to quieter days in its southern regions, it will eventually have to reconquer the Gaza Strip.
On Wednesday, Gantz gave a presentation at a high school in the town of Gan Yavne, situated situated adjacent to the southern port city of Ashdod, a regular target of terrorist missile crews operating out of Gaza.
Students asked Gantz if it would ever be possible to put a full stop to the rocket fire that has effectively placed some one million Israelis under a kind of long-range siege.
Gantz responded: “If we want to make sure that nothing will come from there, we need to retake Gaza.”
The general said Israel had made the strategic decision to “sleep on it,” but indicated that reconquering the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave is a very real possibility.
Several high ranking Israeli officials, including Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, were calling for just such action last week, days after Gaza-based terrorists pounded southern Israel with over 50 missiles and mortar shells.
At a rally in Gaza City on Sunday, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh (pictured) said any Israeli military move would be a major mistake.
“We tell the enemy…who is threatening to reoccupy Gaza that the time for your threats is over,” Haniyeh declared. “Any aggression or crime or stupidity you commit will cost you a very high price.”
On Saturday, hundreds of Israelis, including many journalists, received threatening cellphone text messages and emails from Hamas. The messages promised continued rocket attacks and kidnapping attempts against Israel, and vowed that the next Gaza war would result in Israel’s demise.
One email message received by staff at Israel National News spoke of revenge for the 2004 elimination of Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin by the IDF. It read:
“Ten years ago, Ismail Ahmed Yassin, our leader, was killed by three missiles as he left a mosque after morning prayers. This is a reminder that we do not forget our Sheikh’s blood on your hands. We vow once again that we will take revenge, and cut off the heads of your commanders. Missiles killed our Sheikh and now, our missiles will hit every place in the State of Israel. Know that the next war will see the end of your country.”