Steinitz: Abbas, Iran trying to inflame tensions in Gaza
Energy minister Steinitz says if situation gets worse, Israel will consider targeted killing of Hamas leaders, while Intelligence Minister Katz criticizes Defense Minister Lieberman for not putting 'the elimination of the Hamas regime in Gaza on the table since entering office.'
Iran and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are trying to inflame the tensions in Gaza, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz told Ynet on Sunday.
"Abbas is intentionally cutting the salaries (of PA employees in Gaza) and trying to undermine the electricity and water supply to the Gaza Strip in order to create a humanitarian explosion," Steinitz said.
Following a weekend of hostilities in the strip, Steinitz stressed that Israel would "not accept any type of terrorism. Not rockets, not tunnels and not arsons with balloons and kites. Any violation of our territory, harm to the residents or damage to property, will be answered with great force."
Steinitz added that "if the situation gets worse, we will consider targeted killing as well as going to a much broader military operation than what we've had so far."
While Steinitz presented a united front for the government, Intelligence and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz criticized Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Saturday evening.
"The defense minister didn't put the elimination of the Hamas regime in Gaza on the table, at least not since entering office," Katz told Ynet. "It's a matter of balance (of power) and what's the objective."
He said that if Israel wanted to go to war in Gaza, "we would've done it on our own terms. We'll strike whoever we need to whenever we need to and move on."
The intelligence minister noted that Israel was "on the verge" of launching targeted killings of senior Hamas officials. "If this is what we have to do, then this too is on the table as a top priority," he said.
At the moment, however, he said the existing IDF operations in Gaza "are sending a clear message: Enough. If the message is indeed internalized, we'll move on. If not, the campaign will be expended."
Katz asserted that "the real solution is not diplomatic. There is no diplomatic solution with Gaza. The solution is one-sided: a separation."
Yesh Atid leader MK Yair Lapid criticized the government's decisions. "We're paying the price for a complete failure. Israel has been sending the wrong message from day one. Hamas is looking at our government and thinks they're scared of them. We don't need to be afraid of Hamas, they should be afraid of us. They shouldn't be the ones to determine the strength of the deterrence," he said.
He called for targeted killings of Hamas officials. "It cannot be that children on the Gaza border can't sleep at night (because of the Code Red sirens), but (Hamas leaders) Ismail Haniyeh and Yahya Sinwar sleep peacefully in their beds. We need to go back to the entire toolbox, including targeted killings of Hamas heads," he said.
Attila Somfalvi, Alexandra Lukash and Moran Azulay contributed to this story.