Photo Credit: Amos Ben-Gershom / GPO
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett meet with defense establishment officials at IDF Southern Command headquarters on Nov. 13 2019.

Israel is in the midst of a campaign to restore the quiet and security to her residents, and particularly to those living in the south, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters on Wednesday evening.

The prime minister spoke with media after leading a meeting of the Security Cabinet at IDF Southern Command headquarters together with Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, ISA (Shin Bet) Director Nadav Argaman, National Security Council (NSC) Director Meir Ben-Shabbat and senior defense establishment officials.

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“We have agreed on the future steps,” Netanyahu said following the meeting. “There is a great achievement here for the State of Israel, which has further strengthened its deterrence. The arch-terrorists know that we can put them in the cross hairs, and we will put in the crosshairs anyone who tries to attack us.

“Moreover, we are not bent on escalation but we will carry out all the necessary actions that we have agreed on in order to continue defending the State of Israel and its citizens.”

Netanyahu reiterated that Israel is “in the midst of a campaign,” saying defense officials “hope it will be as short as possible.” He added that Israel is not bent on escalation, but that “we will do whatever is necessary to restore the quiet and security to the residents of Israel, including the residents of the south. I think we are on the right track,” he said.

“I would like to commend you, the Chief-of-Staff, GOC Southern Command, the ISA and IDF Intelligence. The commanders and soldiers are doing fantastic work.”

Netanyahu also met on Wednesday evening with a senior delegation of AIPAC members at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem to update them on the situation in Gaza.

“The most important distinction in international law — and specifically about the rules of war — is that here is a dividing line,” the prime minister said.

“On one side are combatants; on the other side are non-combatants… one cannot fight people who are innocent civilians. You can cross that line accidentally, but you can’t cross it deliberately. If you deliberately target civilians, that’s a war crime.”

Netanyahu pointed out that “terrorists, including the terrorists in Gaza, do something entirely different. They target civilians deliberately. They target our cities; they target Ashkelon, as they did today. They target the communities around Gaza. They target Tel Aviv. They target Jerusalem. They deliberately target civilians. That’s a war crime.

“Now, they commit a second war crime. They not only target civilians, they hide behind civilians in civilian areas, so that they know that we, who are trying to avoid hitting civilians, will not hit them in their places of hiding. So they’re committing a double war crime. They’re targeting civilians and they’re hiding behind civilians, trying to basically receive a safe situation where they can keep on doing this.”

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