Israel is stepping up its defenses along the Gaza border in anticipation of yet more violence from Hamas and has reportedly moved additional Iron Dome anti-rocket batteries into place.
Israel has been battling Palestinian rioters and fire kites and balloons along the Gaza border since the launch of the so-called ‘Great March of Return’ on March 30th.
The six-month-old friction peaked in May and June, with rockets flying, but since last month, the number of Palestinian rioters attacking the Israeli border surged. The protests have gone from weekly to daily with as many as 20,000 rioters taking part in a single day.
At a joint press conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there are two reasons for the trouble with Hamas.
“First of all, here is, of course, the permanent effort by Hamas to arm itself and organize against Israel,” Netanyahu said.
The Israel Defense Forces released footage last week showing its detonation of explosives that Palestinians hurled or planted along the Gaza border. The IDF said it’s now moving additional troops to the area.
Netanyahu said Hamas is also attacking Israel because Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) cut funds to Gaza.
“In the last year, Abu Mazen has made the situation in Gaza more difficult by choking off the flow of funds from the Palestinian Authority to Gaza. As a result of this chokehold, pressures have been created there and as a result of the pressures, from time to time Hamas attacks Israel at a relatively low intensity, but the chokehold is tightening,” Netanyahu said.
Hamas leaders say they are ramping up riots to get Israel to accept a ceasefire.
But experts say Hamas wants the truce to allow the flow of goods into Gaza to continue to build up its terror infrastructure and then hit Israel when the time is right. It’s a tactic the terror group has used in the past.
Netanyahu’s message was clear:
“If Hamas thinks that as a result of this plight it can attack Israel – it will be making a very major mistake. Our response will be harsh, very harsh. I hope that it is possible to halt this strangulation but I also reiterate that Israel will act with all necessary strength to defend itself and its citizens.”