Netanyahu shortens Paris visit due to escalation in south

Due to the escalation at the Israel-Gaza border, Netanyahu cut short his visit to Paris Sunday night.

By World Israel News Staff

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cut short his visit to Paris by nearly a full day, canceling his scheduled meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron and the French Jewish community, in order to return to Israel Sunday night to deal with the worsening security situation in the south.

A fresh wave of fighting erupted between Israeli forces and Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip on Sunday night, leaving an IDF soldier dead and another wounded, and at least six Palestinian terrorists killed, including a leading Hamas member.

In a statement, Hamas’ armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, said Israeli undercover forces in a civilian vehicle infiltrated three kilometers (two miles) into Gaza and fatally shot one of its commanders, Nur Barakeh. Hamas fighters discovered the car and chased it down, prompting an Israeli airstrike that killed “a number of people,” the statement said, adding that the clashes were still ongoing.

The Israeli military reported an “exchange of fire” had taken place during operational activity in Gaza and said “all IDF soldiers back in Israel.” It did not elaborate.

Netanyahu was in Paris for the World War I centenary conference, where he was meeting with several world leaders.

On Thursday, Israel transferred $15 million in cash in suitcases to Hamas, via Qatar – a move that outraged many residents of the south, who have been frustrated by the government’s failure to take more effective action against the terror from Gaza. The funds were used to pay Palestinian civil servant salaries.

In Paris, the prime minister defended the cash deal, saying,  “This was the right decision. We did it to avoid a humanitarian collapse in Gaza and to avoid unnecessary war. We don’t want a war. I do everything that I can to avoid unnecessary war – I am not afraid of war if it is necessary, but I want to prevent it when it is not necessary.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.