‘Arrogant words’: Netanyahu dismisses Hamas war threats

At the weekly Cabinet meeting, the prime minister also addressed the rampant Arab crime, saying, “We eliminated most organized crime in Jewish society. This is what we intend to do in Arab society as well.”

By Pesach Benson, TPS

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed threats of war from a senior Hamas terror commander in remarks at the beginning of Sunday’s weekly Cabinet meeting.

Saleh al-Arouri, who commands Hamas terror cells in Judea and Samaria, threatened war if Israel began launching targeted assassinations of Hamas leaders in Gaza or Lebanon.

“The leaders of the occupation government, with their extremist policies, will cause an all-out war in the region,” the Lebanon-based al-Arouri told the pro-Hezbollah newspaper Al-Mayadeen in an interview on Friday. “Some in the cabinet are considering actions such as taking control of Al-Aqsa Mosque and dividing it, along with assassinations, knowing that this would lead to a regional war. If we reach the point of an all-out confrontation, Israel will face an unprecedented defeat in its history, and we are confident of that.”

In response, Netanyahu said, “I also heard the arrogant words of senior Hamas official Arouri, from his hiding place in Lebanon. He knows very well why he and his friends are in hiding places. Hamas and other branches of Iran understand very well that we will fight with all means against their attempts to create terrorism against us – in Judea and Samaria, in Gaza and anywhere else.”

The Prime Minister added, “Whoever tries to harm us, whoever finances, whoever organizes, whoever sends terror against Israel – will pay the full price.”

The Security Cabinet’s decision last Tuesday came amid mounting Palestinian terror attacks. So far in 2023, Palestinian terrorists have killed 34 people (33 Israelis and an Italian tourist) in Israel and committed almost 200 shooting attacks in Judea and Samaria.

Sources within the Gaza Strip told the Tazpit Press Service that Arouri “is currently considered an extremely important asset for the Iranians and therefore it should be estimated that his elimination abroad will lead to the ignition of an all-out campaign, certainly on the northern front.”

Netanyahu also pledged to crack down on an unprecedented wave of Arab violence. On Saturday, six people were injured in a shooting in the northern Arab town of Kafr Kana.

Five people were murdered in the previous week, including two municipal officials in the towns of Tira and Abu Snan.

According to the Abraham Initiative, a Jewish-Arab organization which promotes Arab integration into Israel society, 157 Arab Israelis have been killed in criminal violence since the beginning of 2023. The number of Arab homicides at this time in 2022 was 68.

This year’s spike in violence is attributed to organized crime groups fighting turf battles and trying to eliminate rivals. Arab criminal organizations have been involved in extortion, money laundering, trafficking in weapons, drugs and women.

Netanyahu referred to Israeli battles against Jewish organized crime groups, vowing, “We eliminated most organized crime in Jewish society. This is what we intend to do in Arab society as well. We believe that all citizens of Israel, Jews and non-Jews, Jews and Arabs deserve to live in security, and certainly not under the regime of terror and terror that many of our Arab citizens live under today.”

Netanyahu said the government would examine the use of various restrictions and administrative detention and called on Arab leaders to “stand together” with the government.