An Israeli airstrike in Gaza. July 14, 2018 © SOPA Images / Getty Images
The government will be forced “to return to a broad military operation” in Gaza if Hamas doesn’t stop attacking Israel, Gilad Erdan warned on Thursday. Speaking to state radio broadcaster Kan, he said that the potential military action could be “at least” as massive as the devastating Operation Protective Edge, conducted in Gaza four years ago.
Erdan’s remarks come after the IDF reported that Hamas launched several rockets into Israel from Gaza the previous night. The army also said that a day earlier it shelled Gaza with tanks and artillery after an IDF soldier was wounded by “sniper fire” near the border fence.
The Israeli Army is prepared for a large-scale attack on Gaza, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman confirmed last week. He also warned that the operation will have “a wider scope” and will be “much more painful” to Hamas than the previous conflict.
Tensions have been high on the Israel-Gaza border since late March, when Palestinians began fresh protests against the Israeli occupation. Over 130 demonstrators were killed in the following months by the Israeli Army and security forces, according to health officials in Gaza.
Israel’s military response was condemned by the UN General Assembly and numerous humanitarian groups. Human Rights Watch had called for the IDF to be investigated for possible war crimes. The army blames the violence on Hamas and claims that the majority of the victims are Hamas operatives.
The previous large-scale IDF operation in Gaza was mounted in 2014 after three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered by members of Hamas’ military wing. The subsequent UN inquiry found that 1,462 Palestinian and six Israeli civilians were killed during the 51-day assault. One-third of the Palestinian casualties were children.