Israel preparing large-scale military campaign in Gaza: Netanyahu

Thursday, 2019-07-04 11:05:06
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An Israeli Air Force F-35 is seen during an air force exercise, June 2019.
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on July 3 that his country is preparing to wage a broad military campaign in the Gaza Strip, if needed, amidst tensions with the besieged Palestinian enclave.

Netanyahu, who is also Israel's defense minister, chaired on July 3 a security cabinet meeting at the army's Gaza Division Headquarters outside Gaza before meeting there with local and regional council heads from the area.

"Our policy is clear," he said after the meeting, according to a statement issued by his office. "We want to restore the calm but at the same time we are also prepared for a wide-ranging military campaign, if it proves necessary," he said.

"These are my instructions to the IDF (Israel Defense Forces)," he added.

Israel and Hamas, an Islamist Palestinian movement that runs Gaza, have reportedly reached initial understandings as part of Egypt's efforts to broker a long-term cease-fire between the two.

Both sides accuse each other of violating the understandings, with Israel occasionally imposing and lifting restrictions on the permitted fishing zone and fuel supply to Gaza and Gazans sending incendiary helium-filled balloons to set fires in southern Israel's arid lands.

Palestinians in Gazan have been protesting against the 12-year-old crippling blockade imposed by Israel on the coastal enclave.

Israel's last full-fledged military campaign in Gaza took place in the summer of 2014, claiming the lives of 2,251 people in the Gaza Strip, mostly civilians, and 71 people in Israel, mostly soldiers.