Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Hamas terrorists Sunday not to underestimate Israel’s ability to hold out under any ‘war of attrition’ the group might attempt.
“We are in the midst of a combined military and diplomatic campaign,” Netanyahu said at the start of Sunday’s government cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.
“From the first day, the Israeli delegation to Cairo has worked under clear instructions: Insist on the security needs of the State of Israel. Only if there is a clear response to our security needs will we agree to reach understandings,” he said.
The comment came in response to the rejection by Hamas of an 11-point tentative plan reached Thursday in Cairo, in connection which Palestinian Arab representatives had expressed optimism.
That was before Hamas leaders had made the requisite pilgrimage to see politburo chief Khaled Mashaal, who is based comfortably in Qatar – not with his suffering brethren in Gaza – and who over the weekend with his Qatari handlers immediately nixed the deal.
Israeli officials had maintained silence about the plan throughout the weekend, other than to say that any deal must meet the security needs of the Jewish State.
On Saturday night, Hamas leaders returned to Gaza with bluster and brazen attitude, demanding the inclusion of two points that were turned down by Israel: construction of a seaport and airport in Gaza. Both would create an instant express route for the import of weaponry into the enclave, totally impractical from Israel’s security standpoint since Hamas has proved itself to be without honor and incapable of sticking to agreements or cease-fires for any length of time.
Last week, the Wall Street Journal revealed the White House placed a ‘hold’ on an imminent delivery of Hellfire missiles that was due to arrive in Israel and issued an order to the Pentagon that future military transactions must be scrutinized directly by the State Department and the Oval Office.
The move emboldened Hamas and its backers, who might otherwise have reached the point of understanding that it was in the best interest of Gazans for Hamas to reach an agreement for quiet, if not peace, with Israel. Instead, the terrorist group decided it would prefer to continue its campaign of terror.
Late Saturday night, Hamas officials announced that Israel should prepare for a “long war of attrition” if the Jewish State is not willing to “meet all our demands.”
But that’s a mistake, Netanyahu said, despite the sporadic demonstrations that terrorists have seen on television protesting against the government’s handling of the conflict.
“In the past month Hamas has taken a severe military blow. We destroyed its network of tunnels that it took years to dig. We intercepted the rockets that it had massed in order to carry out thousands of deadly strikes against the Israeli home front. And we foiled the terrorist attacks that it tried to perpetrate against Israeli civilians – by land, sea and air,” Netanyahu said.
“If Hamas thinks that it can cover up its military loss with a diplomatic achievement, it is mistaken,” he warned. “If Hamas thinks that continued sporadic firing will cause us to make concessions, it is mistaken.
“As long as quiet is not restored, Hamas will continue to take very harsh blows. If Hamas thinks that we cannot stand up to it over time, it is mistaken.
“In the stormy and unstable Middle East in which we live, it is not enough that there be more strength, determination and patience are also necessary. Hamas knows that we are very strong but maybe it thinks that we do not have enough determination and patience, and here it is making a big mistake.”Hana Levi Julian