Israeli minister says conquering Gaza still on the table

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said that if necessary, the cabinet would consider destroying Hamas.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Minister of Energy Yuval Steinitz said Sunday on a Kan Radio news program that if necessary, the Israeli government would consider ending the terrorist regime of Hamas and reconquering the Gaza Strip, but that at this time it was not required.

Steinitz, a member of Israel’s security cabinet, was unequivocal about who came out ahead when asked about last week’s rocket barrage by Hamas on southern Israel and the IDF’s counterstrikes.

“It’s very clear,” he said, “you just have to look at the proportions. Over the last couple of months we had one killed and a few injured. In Gaza – 200 killed and nearly 7,000 injured. And I’m not even talking about the hard blow we landed on what was left of Hamas’ attempt to build its strength up again.”

He was referring both to the attack tunnels that Israel has neutralized over the last several months, and to the targets hit most recently by Israel’s air force.

“We used the last round to hit the missile and UAV industry badly,” he insisted, claiming that the IAF’s “increasingly harsh blows” to Hamas infrastructure created calm over the weekend for Gaza-belt communities, as opposed to indirect talks with Hamas via Egypt, the UN and others.

While pointing out that not every Hamas attack necessitates a full-scale war to effectively halt the enemy in its tracks, he added that Israel has not used all the tools it could, if it became necessary.

“We haven’t signed any cease-fire agreement. We reserve the right to act, and we are keeping our cards close to our chests,” he stated firmly, saying he believed Israel’s actions had deterred Hamas.

When asked how 200 rockets shot at Israel showed Hamas was being dissuaded, Steinitz contended, “Even Hamas, which is very deterred, will sometimes act in a desperate, almost suicidal manner.”

Israel has dealt for years with terrorist incidents on many different fronts, he concluded, without going to war.

“But we are ready,” he added. “We’re not interested in it now for several reasons.”

He included in the list the fact that the government can’t see exactly what Israel would achieve from such a clash, and the “ticking issue” in the north, with the Iranians trying to “change reality to our detriment” in Syria.