Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apparently told the heads of Israeli communities bordering the Gaza Strip that it would be challenging to launch a wide-scale operation in the Hamas-controlled enclave two weeks before the national elections.
Netanyahu convened the officials at the Prime Minister’s Office on Sunday for a private meeting to discuss the situation on the southern border. The tensions along the Israel-Gaza border have risen in recent weeks due to the continuing rocket and explosive balloon attacks.
“Before the elections, it would be difficult to open a significant military campaign,” Netanyahu was quoted as saying to the forum of the local councils of the Gaza border communities and the city of Sderot.
He added, however, that Israel is prepared for war should the situation on the ground require it.
"If there is no choice then it’s [war] also an option," he said, adding, "an arrangement is better than war and we must exhaust every possibility."
At the end of the discussion, the heads of the local councils issued a statement calling on the government to change the current response policy to the attacks originating in the Strip.
“We expect to see a change in policy vis-à-vis terror organizations in the Gaza Strip,” said the statement.
"We have made it clear, the fact that Israel is in a never-ending election cycle cannot detract from maintaining the security of 60,000 citizens of the State of Israel who live in the Gaza border region and in Sderot."
Netanyahu commended the residents of the region on their resilience and instructed PMO’s Acting Director General Ronen Peretz to implement as soon as possible the order to accelerate economic development in communities bordering the enclave.