August 18, 2019

Netanyahu Says IDF ‘Preparing’ for Gaza Military Campaign

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the Israeli Air Force pilots' graduation ceremony at Hatzerim air base in southern Israel June 27, 2019. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on July 3 that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are bracing for a possible military campaign into the Gaza Strip, the Jerusalem Post reports.

Speaking after a meeting with leaders of southern Israeli communities, Netanyahu said, “We want to bring back calm, but at the same time, we are preparing for a large-scale military operation, if necessary. These are my orders for the army.”

The meeting occurred following a barrage of incendiary balloons from Gaza on June 28, a violation of a reported ceasefire between Israel and Hamas earlier that day.

Two regional heads, Gardi Yarkoni of Eshkol and Ofir Libstein of Sh’ar Hanegev, boycotted the meeting because it wasn’t exclusively with those who have been terrorized by the Gaza balloons and rockets.

“Without a doubt the challenges, the needs and the reality facing the Gaza periphery is fundamentally different from the other regions,” Yarkoni and Libstein said.

Netanyahu dismissed the boycott, pointing out that Yarkoni and Libstein had been complaining that he wasn’t listening to them, yet they left when they had an opportunity to voice their concerns to the prime minister.

“We will do what is needed for everyone,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu has been criticized for constantly agreeing to ceasefire agreements with Hamas that the terror group then violates. Pro-Israel activist Barbara Diamond argued in a June 26 Times of Israel blog that Hezbollah’s arsenal of rockets in the north complicates a potential military campaign in Gaza.

If Israel begins another war with Gaza, it would be the perfect time for Hezbollah to garner the will to begin their own attack,” Diamond wrote. “This is not a war which will be fought on the ground. Our soldiers will not be going into the houses to find the missiles… drones will locate them and homes and families will be decimated. Preserving peace is a delicate balance.”

Diamond noted that Hezbollah is believed to have 140,000 rockets stored in Lebanon and could have around 3,000 to 4,000 aimed at Israel each day during a potential war. 

Others, such as The Daily Wire’s Josh Hammer, argue that Netanyahu needs to act against Hamas as soon as possible because “while the Israel Defense Forces would no doubt suffer high and tragic casualties as a result of a prolonged land invasion, one is forced to consider the tradeoff of inaction — the continuance of the status quo. And that status quo is truly terrible for all parties involved.”