Gantz: Senior Hamas leaders could still be targeted

Defense Minister: Israel will not allow a “trickling” of rockets or incendiary balloons. If they challenge us, we will continue to fight.

Arutz Sheva North America Staff ,

Benny Gantz
Benny Gantz
Elad Malka

Defense Minister Benny Gantz made clear on Friday that Israel will not allow a “trickling” of rockets or incendiary balloons after the end of Operation Guardian of the Walls.

Speaking to Kan 11 News, Gantz stressed that the leaders of Hamas, Mohammed Deif and Yahya Sinwar could still be targeted for elimination by Israel. "The leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders have no insurance certificate at any point in time," he stressed.

Gantz was asked if the close cooperation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the operation in Gaza would lead them to a new joint government and replied, "No."

"Gaza is not going anywhere and we are certainly not going anywhere. I mean that the IDF's response policy will be further tightened. As long as they challenge us, we will continue to fight," he said.

The Defense Minister said he believed that Sinwar wanted to be seen as influencing Jerusalem and the Arabs of Israel and stressed that Sinwar "made a serious mistake", the consequences of which he only understands now.

On the possibility of bringing about the collapse of Hamas during the operation, Gantz said that this was possible, but would have required Israel to conquer the Gaza Strip.

"I am not saying that this is an option that will not materialize one day, but we are doing well to try to exhaust other levels of action. We are acting with both political and security responsibility. If one day we have to conquer the Gaza Strip, we will do so," said Gantz, who also noted that there was no American ultimatum to end the latest round of fighting.

Asked whether Jews would be permitted to visit the Temple Mount, he replied, "Jews will be able to visit the Temple Mount. Jews will be able to live where they want and where the court will say they can live. We will act as a state governed by the rule of law and make it subject to security considerations. The police determine whether it is permissible to visit the Temple Mount – that’s the way it has been and the way it always will be. Israel maintained the freedom of worship in Jerusalem during the most difficult days, and it is good that it did so."

Gantz was asked about Netanyahu not sharing the credit for the success and replied, "The defense establishment, the Prime Minister, the Defense Minister and the other cabinet ministers worked collaboratively on the security issue because that is what is right for the country. If someone wants to steal credit, good luck to him. I am not interested in that."

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)