Netanyahu warns Hamas that the ‘rules of the game have changed’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Hamas against attacking Israel again, saying that “the rules of the game have changed.”

Netanyahu visited the southern city of Sderot on Thursday, during which he attended a ceremony to mark the completion of a defensive structural reinforcement project for residences in communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip that have been suffering from Hamas shelling.

Throughout the past decade, the city of Sderot has been the target of intermediate heavy bombing by Hamas terrorists.

While Israel seeks peace, Netanyahu warned Hamas that Israel would respond harshly to attacks in its territory.

“The operation [Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in the summer of 2016] has now given us the quietest two years that we have had in the past decade,” he pointed out.

While Israel cannot shape the strategic environment in which it lives nor control all future development, it does have the possibility of achieving deterrence against its enemies and “to inflict significant damage on the infrastructures of terror if necessary,” he said.

“Our policy is to respond vigorously to any violation – no matter how small – of the calm, and you see this, and make it clear to those on the other side that the rules of the game have changed,” Netanyahu warned.

Since the operation, Gaza-based terrorists have fired barrages from time to time, and Israel responded by bombing Hamas terror targets in Gaza.

“Quiet here equals quiet in Gaza. Attacking us will lead to ruin and destruction for Hamas, Islamic Jihad and whoever tries to attack us from the other side of the fence,” Netanyahu cautioned. “We will respond in strength to any attempt to attack our communities and our citizens.”

Netanyahu also stressed that while defensive measures were of significance, “it is no substitute for our offensive striking power. I am constantly hearing about what Hamas is doing but I know what we are doing. I know what we are planning. I know how we are organizing.”

Since Israel decimated Hamas’ terror infrastructure during Operation Protective Edge, Hamas has been working relentlessly to rehabilitate its networks and replenish its weapons stockpiles, while Israel has been working to learn the lessons of the summer war, thwart Hamas’ efforts towards re-intensification and prepare for the pending conflict with Hamas.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News