On March 30, 2018, a protest campaign was launched at the Gaza Strip border fence, which ebbed and rolled and evolved into an outright military confrontation in which the IDF has been stuck in a reactive mode even as terrorist rocket barrages and immensely more destructive firebomb kites and balloons destroyed thousands of acres of agricultural land, forests and nature perseveres.
And then three months and sixteen days later, on Monday, July 15, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the town of Sderot for the first time since the start of the hostilities, met with local council heads from the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip, and visited a kindergarten.
“I have just finished an excellent meeting with the heads of councils in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip,” Netanyahu told the press. “I told them that we are in a prolonged struggle.”
Netanyahu, who just returned from a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and from attending a semi-final World Cup game in Moscow, continued: “Just as we are now completing the blocking of the tunnels and as we took action and succeeded in stopping the mass storming of the fences, I have directed the IDF to defeat and stop the terror of incendiary kites and balloons, and we are in the midst of the process.”
The PM did not offer an explanation as to why he had chosen not to order stopping those incendiary weapons before an estimated 6,000 acres had gone up in smoke. Nevertheless, ignoring this critical question, Netanyahu said: “It is important that Hamas understand that it faces an iron wall and this wall is comprised, first of all, of a determined government, of strong local leadership and Zionist settlement, and that we will continue to strengthen it and – of course – the IDF.”
Really good to know.
“We are proud of them and I am proud of the marvelous local residents who are facing difficult days. But I am convinced of our common strength to rebuff, deter and, in the end, defeat this Gaza-based terror,” Netanyahu reassured his audience.
Attending Netanyahu’s meeting were Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi, Shaar Hanegev Regional Council Chairman Alon Shuster, Sdot Negev Regional Council Chairman Tamir Idan, Eshkol Regional Council Chairman Gadi Yarkoni and Hof Ashkelon Regional Council Chairman Yair Ferjon.
Netanyahu then answered reporters’ questions regarding what the Israeli population has been enduring since after Passover this year:
“I was just in a kindergarten where I saw small adorable, children. We are committed to them and this is a continuous process. I do not want to tell anybody that it is over.
“The day before yesterday we took very strong action against Hamas and dealt it the strongest blow it has taken since Operation Protective edge. It must be understood that whoever asks me these questions needs to be prepared for the continuation of the struggle.
“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 then answered a question about the incendiary kites:
“Indeed we have instructed the IDF to stop this. We do not accept, I said this yesterday as clearly as possible and it is worth their while to listen to me, especially on the other side, there is no such thing from our perspective of a ceasefire that makes an exception for incendiary kites and balloons. There is no such thing. From our point-of-view this does not exist and therefore we are in the midst of a process. I will say this for the seventh time and it will, I hope, get through. But if it will not be understood from my words, it will be understood through the actions of the IDF.”
So, naturally, we will watch the actions of the IDF and try to figure out when and how it plans to protect Israeli civilians. We’ll keep you posted.