Netanyahu vows to stop arson terror during surprise visit to south

The prime minister promised to stop Hamas’s bomb-laden kites and balloons during a surprise visit to the south.  

By: World Israel News Staff

During a visit Monday to the southern city of Sderot, which has been a main target of Hamas shelling, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he directed the IDF to stop arson terror from Gaza .

Netanyahu met with local council heads from the area, during which he told them that Israel is “in a prolonged struggle.”

Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi, Shaar Hanegev Regional Council Chairman Alon Shuster, Sdot Negev Regional Council Chairman Tamir Idan, Eshkol Regional Council Chairman Gadi Yarkoni and Hof Ashkelon Regional Council Chairman Yair Ferjon all attended the meeting. All of their regional councils have targeted by Hamas bombing and airborne arson terror.

Netanyahu vowed to fight the fire terror emanating from Gaza, saying that “just as we are now completing the blocking of the tunnels and as we took action and succeeded in stopping the mass storming of the fences, I have directed the IDF to defeat and stop the terror of incendiary kites and balloons, and we are in the midst of the process.”

Hamas’ burning kites and balloons launched over the border fence have ignited over 1,000 fires in the area adjacent to the Strip in the past three months, laying waste to more than 8,200 acres of forest and agricultural land, with damage totaling tens of millions of dollars.

Issuing a direct message to the Hamas terror organization, which rules Gaza, Netanyahu said it must understand that “it faces an iron wall and this wall is comprised, first of all, of a determined government, of strong local leadership and Zionist settlement, and that we will continue to strengthen it and – of course – the IDF.”

Netanyahu expressed pride in the “marvelous local residents who are facing difficult days. But I am convinced of our common strength to rebuff, deter and, in the end, defeat this Gaza-based terror.”

During his tour of the city, the Israeli premier visited a kindergarten. “We are committed to them and this is a continuous process. I do not want to tell anybody that it is over,” he stated.

Netanyahu’s visit to the city came after an extremely violent weekend during which Gaza-based terrorists fired some 200 rockets at Israel, and in response, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) carried out the largest wave of daytime strikes against Hamas terror targets in Gaza since Operation Protective Edge in summer 2014, bombing some 40 terror targets.

Netanyahu said the operation was a “very strong action against Hamas” that “dealt it the strongest blow it has taken since Operation Protective edge.”

‘It is not over in one blow’

“There is an exchange of blows here. It is not over in one go and I cannot comfort those who have taken the most difficult losses. This is very hard to take, but we know that we are in a prolonged Zionist struggle,” he underscored.

“For 100 years we have been fighting terror; we fight it forcefully. This place right now is the confrontation line between Islamic terrorism and the state of the Jews and we are determined to win. This entails an exchange of blows which are not yet over,” he explained.

Asked about the fire kites and terror balloons, Netanyahu said that the government has “instructed the IDF to stop this.”

“We do not accept, I said this yesterday as clearly as possible and it is worth their while to listen to me, especially on the other side, there is no such thing from our perspective of a ceasefire that makes an exception for incendiary kites and balloons. There is no such thing. From our point-of-view, this does not exist and therefore we are in the midst of a process. I will say this for the seventh time and it will, I hope, get through,” he underscored.

“But if it will not be understood from my words, it will be understood through the actions of the IDF,” he concluded.

The IDF on Sunday was given orders by the government to directly attack the arson terrorists and not fire warning shots at them, as has been their conduct until now.

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) in four instances attacked a squad that was launching arson balloons from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory.

“The IDF is determined to continue to defend Israeli civilians and is prepared for a wide variety of scenarios, which may intensify according to the situation assessment and the operational requirements,” the IDF stated.

“The IDF views the launching of arson balloons and kites with great severity and will continue to operate with increasing force against those who carry out this type of terror activity,” the statement said.