Netanyahu Warns Israelis Near Gaza Border of 'Prolonged Struggle'

Published July 17th, 2018 - 01:17 GMT
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (AFP/ File Photo)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. (AFP/ File Photo)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday warned local leaders near the Gaza border hit by rocket fire over the weekend of a "prolonged struggle."

Netanyahu met with the heads of local councils as he visited the southern Israeli city of Sderot in the Gaza border region hit by rocket fire over the weekend and plagued by months of incendiary attacks.

"I have just finished an excellent meeting with the heads of councils in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip," he said in a release. "I told them that we are in a prolonged struggle."

The visit came after a weekend of an exchange of attacks between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants. Rockets fired from Gaza injured three people at a home in Sderot. The Palestinian rockets were in reaction to airstrikes by Israel Defense Forces on Hamas targets in Gaza.

The Israeli airstrikes killed two teenagers and injured 25 people, according to the Gaza health ministry. Netanyahu said the Israeli response was the "harshest blow" against Hamas since the 2014 Gaza war, also known as Operation Protective Edge. Israel launched the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers by Hamas members.

"The day before yesterday we took very strong action against Hamas and dealt it the strongest blow it has taken since Operation Protective Edge," Netanyahu said. "There is an exchange of blows here. It is not over in one go and I cannot comfort those who have taken the most difficult losses. This is very hard to take, but we know that we are in a prolonged Zionist struggle.

"For 100 years we have been fighting terror; we fight it forcefully. This place right now is the confrontation line between Islamic terrorism and the state of the Jews and we are determined to win. This entails an exchange of blows which are not yet over."

Netanyahu has been previously criticized for not visiting communities near the Gaza border and accepting a cease-fire that excluded mention of incendiary kites and balloons militants have sent over the border into Israel, The Jerusalem Post reported. Netanayhu denied Sunday, though, that he ever agreed to a cease-fire that excluded the devices.

Netanyahu reiterated in Monday's release "there is no such thing as a cease-fire which excludes the fire kites and fire balloons."

Palestinians have been holding weekly Great March of Return protests at the border since March, calling for the return of refugees to their homes and lands from which they were displaced in 1948.

Arson attacks have caused hundreds of fires in southern Israel since April and Israeli officials say the practice of setting kites and balloons aflame across the Gaza border started out on a small scale, but was then adopted and encouraged by the extremist group, Hamas, which seeks to destroy Israel.

This article has been adapted from its original source.

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