Netanyahu denies he’s dodging military campaign in Gaza out of election fears

Netanyahu said assertions that he was avoiding a military campaign because of the elections are not true.

By World Israel News Staff

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was ready to carry out a large operation against terror groups in the Gaza Strip if necessary. He  made his remarks on Sunday to reporters before boarding a plane for a two-day trip to the Ukraine.

Netanyahu was responding to criticism that he was purposely avoiding a broad military confrontation in the Gaza Strip in order not to risk his election prospects. Israel heads to the polls on September 17.

Earlier on Sunday a number of politicians leveled attacks at the prime minister over the perceived deterioration in the security situation after terrorists fired several rockets into Israel over the weekend and a group of terrorists attempted to steal across the border.

The prime minister pushed back against his detractors. “I hear talk that I refrain from going into a wider campaign because of the elections.”

“That’s not true. Anyone who knows me knows that my considerations are substantive and that I work in full cooperation with the security forces – with firmness and discretion,” he said. “If the situation demands, we will go to a military campaign. Whether or not there are elections. We will do what is necessary for the State of Israel, and our enemy will feel the weight of our arm fall.”

Netanyahu may have felt it necessary to respond to the attacks he appears vulnerable politically on the issue of security in the south.

Israel has absorbed numerous rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip over the last year. It has also suffered arson attacks that have consumed thousands of acres of farmland and nature preserves. And since March 2018, Hamas has organized weekly riots on the Gaza-Israel border.

Backing Netanyahu on Monday was Israel’s Minister of Energy Yuval Steinitz, who is a member of the Security Cabinet. He told Israel’s Kan public broadcaster, “I think the prime minister is acting in an aggressive but also in a wise and deliberate manner.”

“We are preparing for a widespread operation in Gaza. But we have another sector, preventing Iran’s establishment in Syria. There, we are operating in hundreds of operations, openly and secretly. We have succeeded in stopping an Iranian military alignment on the Golan Heights,” Steinitz said.

In a comment perhaps directed at former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, head of the Blue and White party, who toured the Gaza region on Sunday and criticized the prime minister, Steinitz said:

“Not one of the former generals had a long-term solution to the Gaza problem. But when we try to reach a long-term settlement, we demand peace in the Gaza envelope and the return of prisoners and bodies [of MIAs].”

He noted that Israel has never succeeded in fully preventing terror.