Israeli Defense Minister: Next War with Gaza Will Be the Last


Stressing that Tel Aviv has “no intention of starting a new war,” Israel’s defense minister has vowed to seek the total destruction of Hamas if the militant group – which refuses to recognize the Jewish state – attempts to “impose” a conflict on Israel.

“As minister of defense, I would like to clarify that we have no intention of starting a new war against our neighbors in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank, Lebanon, or Syria,” Avigdor Lieberman told Al-Quds daily.

However, he warned the Palestinian Sunni fundamentalist organization Hamas that if a conflict does erupt, Israel will be forced to protect itself.

“But in Gaza, like the Iranians, they intend to eliminate the state of Israel…if they impose the next war on Israel, it will be their last. I would like to emphasize again: It will be their last confrontation because we will completely destroy them.”

The last time Israel fought Hamas was in the seven-week Operation Protective Edge, in which 2,101 people died in the Gaza Strip. According to UN figures, at least 1,460 of those killed in Israeli air raids and ground operations were civilians. Israel lost 64 soldiers in the operation, in addition to seven civilians killed in Israel by rocket attacks.

Lieberman promised to lift the blockade on Gaza and help rebuild destroyed infrastructure if Hamas ceases its military activities against Israel.

“If Hamas stops digging tunnels, rearming and firing rockets, we will lift the blockade and build the port and airport by ourselves,” he said.

In response to the defense minister’s statements, Hamas leader Fathi Hammad said the movement is “in no way afraid and this is a powerful message from Gaza to Lieberman,” AP reported.

Despite the relative calm between Hamas and Israel, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades – Hamas’ military wing which has alleged ties to Iran – continues to carry out regular rocket attacks against southern Israel. While most of the projectiles fall in deserted areas, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) continues to retaliate against the attacks, striking Hamas targets in Gaza air raids.

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