After a rocket was fired at Eilat by Al Qaeda-inspired Ansar Beit al-Maqdis (Partisans of Jerusalem) Friday night, and shot down by Iron Dome, Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz warned Saturday that at the current rate, Israel will soon have to once again enter Gaza to destroy Hamas, the Islamist terrorist group which currently controls the territory.
"In the last year or two there has been an improvement in the security situation, fewer rockets have been fired at Israel and fewer Israelis have been injured," noted Steinitz. "But if the trickle of rockets from Gaza continues, we'll have no choice but to enter and eliminate the Hamas rule, allowing the Palestinian Authority (PA) to rule Gaza again."
Earlier in January, security officials declared the Egypt-brokered ceasefire with Hamas as dead following rocket barrages, as IDF Radio (Galei Tzahal) noted 17 rockets hit Israel in the first 17 days of 2014.
Following the 2005 "Disengagement" plan that evicted all Jews from Gaza and parts of northern Samaria, Hamas took over Gaza by force from the PA in 2006. Just last Sunday, recently-released Hamas leader Hassan Yousef threatened that a third intifada terror war is just around the corner.
While the intelligence minister apparently prefers the PA to Hamas, last week he himself labelled PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas as the world's "number one anti-Semite". Abbas, he said, "doesn't promote (outright) violence" but teaches that the PA "has to destroy Israel sooner or later, and destroy the Jews sooner or later."
Regarding the question of whether a PA-ruled Gaza would be less of a terror threat, figures from 2013 reveal that 1,271 terror attacks took place in Judea and Samaria - a marked increase from 2012, which saw a total of 578 attacks.
Steinitz also spoke about the Jordan Valley, which peace plans pushed by US Secretary of State John Kerry would see transferred to PA control over the course of 10 years, along with the rest of Judea and Samaria. Kerry's plan includes the withdrawal to 1949 Armistice Lines, with the strategically-crucial Judea and Samaria being monitored by drones to provide "security" for what would be left of Israel.
"We must continue holding the Jordan Valley," declared Steinitz.
"In the last decade Israel abandoned territory three times and hoped security arrangements would provide an answer, and in each case the results disappointed," he continued, referring to withdrawals from the Sinai Peninsula, southern Lebanon and Gaza, all of which subsequently became bases for Islamist terrorist groups dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state.