Lapid and Gantz at the event
Lapid and Gantz at the event Amos Ben Gershom, GPO

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid called on residents of the Gaza Strip to pressure the Hamas terrorist organization to cease its attacks on Israel, in exchange for economic growth in the coastal enclave.

Speaking Sunday at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem during the state memorial ceremony for those who fell in Operation Protective Edge, Lapid mourned the Israeli soldiers killed in the 2014 war with Gaza, while proposing a solution to the ongoing conflict with the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

“In the war against Hamas, a brutal and murderous terrorist organization, we are not only right but we are also strong. The best army in the Middle East and the most advanced technology alongside our economic and diplomatic prowess – these guarantee our security,” said Lapid.

“I was a cabinet member during Operation Protective Edge. Nothing prepares you for that moment when you send forces into battle. Every soldier who did not return home is etched onto our souls. We have a sacred obligation to bring home our fallen soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul for burial.”

“In the past year, the Israeli government adopted a zero tolerance policy when it comes to terror from Gaza. Any hostile activity was met with an immediate response that made it very clear to the enemy - don’t test us.”

“This policy was carried out professionally by the security forces and has proven itself. Things that seemed inevitable, such as incendiary balloons, suitcases filled with cash, and sporadic gunfire from Gaza - were brought to almost a complete halt.”

Lapid called for an alternative to periodic fighting with the Gaza Strip, and ground operations in the coastal enclave, suggesting instead that Israel offer economic incentives for Gazans to pressure Hamas to refrain from attacking Israel.

“To prevent the next Operation Protective Edge, the State of Israel must adhere to two principles: The first is zero tolerance for terrorism, zero containment of shootings or attacks against Israelis. Those who come to kill us, we will rise up and kill them first.”

“The second principle is that we need to make the civilian population in Gaza realize that they can live a different life. To pressure Hamas to stop shooting at Israel. To that end, we have increased the number of permits for working in Israel that are issued to the residents of Gaza, and we continue to promote the 'Economy for Security' plan.”

“For a long time, the only two options on the table were occupying Gaza or endless rounds of fighting. Our job is to find better solutions. The IDF's strength enables us freedom of action in Gaza, but also economic and diplomatic freedom of action.”