JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised "painful blows" against Hamas if the terrorist organization controlling Gaza doesn't stop its violent protests. The threat comes after seven months of violent riots along Israel's southern border.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Screen Capture
Netanyahu said Israel may choose a different way to confront Hamas's violence.
"We are close to a different kind of action. Action which will include very painful blows, if Hamas is smart, it will cease its fire and violent outbursts – now," Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.
Hamas-led riots began on March 30th. IDF spokesman Jonathan Conricus told CBN News Hamas plans different events for different days. On Monday it's the beach.
IDF Spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, Photo, CBN News
"Mondays are always the naval riots when they embark from the Gaza harbor trying to reach into Israeli waters," Conricus said. "There are also riots along the beach and of course lots of media activity to try to join these two things together."
Friday is the weekly main event, "Where an average of about 18,000 rioters gather in six different locations trying to violently get across into Israel becoming more and more violent. We see a clear escalation in violence in the weapons that they use," he said.
"Last Friday [in] the most violent attempt, IEDs [improvised explosive devices] were placed by Palestinians along the fence and that blew a hole in the fence through which 20 or so Palestinians got in and they tried to assault an IDF position. At that time Israeli soldiers fired in self-defense after they fired warning shots and made sure that those rioters were not able to get to their position," he explained.
"We see that Hamas is actively pushing Palestinians toward the fence, really escalating the level of violence and trying to get Palestinians killed on the fence," he added.
Michael Oren addressed the Gaza situation with Christian journalists from around the world.
Deputy Minister of Diplomacy MK Michael Oren, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff
"The demonstrator is the new missile," Oren said. "In some cases, it's [a] better missile because it's multi-usage. And they get the picture. They get the picture of innocent kids killed by Israel, which causes the same type of damage. It erodes our national legitimacy."
Earlier CBN News got a firsthand look at what Israeli soldiers have faced for more than half a year.
"It's not legitimate and [it's not] civilian riots," an IDF commander, whose name is withheld for security reasons, explained.
"The leaders of the riots are [members of] Hamas, and they are trying to challenge us," he said.
Hamas has also flown hundreds of arson balloons into Israel that burned thousands of acres of Israeli farmland.
Incendiary balloons launched by Hamas destroyed set wheat fields on fire, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff
The goal of Hamas is to infiltrate into Israeli border communities to attack Israeli civilians. Conricus says there's a limit to what Israel can tolerate.
"It should be very clear to our enemy that there is a limit to the amount of violence that can be tolerated, to the amount of terror that can be inflicted on Israeli civilians. And of course the IDF has the tools and the capabilities to defend against those," Cornricus said.