Israel's new Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, warned Hamas at a memorial rally for the dead of the 2014 Gaza war. The prime minister said Israel's "patience is running out."
In his first public activity since taking office as prime minister, Bennett has emphasized that his government will take a more aggressive approach to violence from Gaza.
In the first week of this administration, two bombings have already been carried out on Gaza by the Israeli army in response to incendiary balloons that have risen from the Palestinian enclave. These balloons seem harmless, but they have already caused major wildfires in the border area.
The simmering violence comes a month after Hamas launched thousands of missiles into Israel during an 11-day round of violence, where Israel responded with hundreds of airstrikes against Hamas targets.
“Our enemies will learn the rules: We will not tolerate violence and a slow drop [from missiles],” Bennett said. "We've run out of patience."
“The residents of Gaza's periphery are not second-class citizens,” he said, listing some of the cities worst hit by rocket fire from the Strip. “Those who live in Sderot, Ashkelon and Kfar Aza deserve to live in peace and security.”
In the Gaza Strip, Palestinians will have to get used to a different Israeli perception of “initiative, aggressiveness and innovation,” he said.
“We do not intend to harm those who do not rise up to kill us, and we do not hate those who are held hostage by a cruel and violent terrorist organization,” Bennett said, referring to Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip.
Outside of the event, which was held during the military ceremony on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, there was a demonstration demanding the government return the remains of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, IDF soldiers killed during the 50s. Day Operation Protective Edge and whose bodies have been held by Hamas. Hamas is also detaining two Israeli civilians who entered Gaza of their own accord.
Of the Israeli prisoners and the remains of the soldiers, Bennett said: "We will do everything we can to bring them home."
“I know you have heard many promises and disappointments over the years. But now it is our watch, and we will act with determination.” – Naphtali Bennett
Bennett also alluded to the make-up of his government, a coalition of left-wing, right-wing and centrist parties, as well as the Ra'am, an Islamist Arab party.
“Today, more than ever, we need to strengthen the threads of the fabric that binds us together into one nation. It is possible to act together without being deterred by those who are different.”
Protective Edge brought 'years of tranquility'
As Bennett walked to the podium to speak, the father of a fallen soldier verbally assaulted him for his support of the ground operation that was part of the 2014 campaign, which resulted in numerous deaths of soldiers. Bennett was a member of the security cabinet at the time.
When he noted that last month's surgery, known as Guardian of the Walls, was conducted without a ground raid, the man exclaimed: “So we learned at the cost of Protective Edge? You were one of those who called on the Prime Minister [Netanyahu] to pressure him into entering Gaza. What happened?! What happened?!"
Bennett said in his speech that the soldiers who fell in 2014 saved "many lives" and that at the time Israel did not have the underground barrier it then built around Gaza to block cross-border Hamas tunnels.
The memorial was also attended by Defense Secretary Benny Gantz and President Reuven Rivlin.
Gantz, who served as the IDF's chief of staff during the 2014 war, said it had brought years of calm to border communities.
In the wake of the more recent campaign, "we must use military achievements in a diplomatic process and be diligent that what was in the past will not be in the future," he said, using the new government's slogan. for his announced change in the previous government's approach to dealing with violence from Gaza.
“We are working for long-term peace, strengthening the moderate elements, led by the Palestinian Authority, bringing the boys home and creating a better reality for our neighbors in Gaza.” – Benny Gantz
“Operation Protective Edge was a battle for the house, a dignified and just campaign by a sovereign state to protect its citizens and restore their routine. Our enemy is an extremist and vicious, murderous, terrorist organization that does not pay much attention to the well-being of the residents of Gaza and continues to take them hostage.” – President Reuven Rivlin
During the 2014 conflict, 67 soldiers and six civilians, including a foreign national, were killed. More than 2.300 Palestinians have been killed, according to the Hamas-led health ministry in Gaza. Israel says many of the dead in Gaza were combatants.