Israeli Defense Minister: War with Gaza is a Matter of When, not If
Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Monday said Israel’s next round of fighting with the Palestinian Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip was a “matter of when, not if.”
He made the remarks after discussing the current security situation on the southern border with Israel’s Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and other security officials at the Gaza Division headquarters on the Reim Military Base.
“Regarding Gaza, the question we should ask is not 'whether another round of fighting will start', but 'when will it start'. I'm sure we'll do what we need to do in the best possible way,” said Lieberman.
He stressed that the Israeli army is prepared and knows what should be done.
The minister also responded to recent criticism accusing him of weakness and saying Israeli forces should have kept up its attacks on the Gaza-ruling Hamas in light of the repeated rocket and mortar attacks.
“We are implementing a responsible and forceful security policy. A responsible security policy is not a response, not to online commentators, not to newspaper headlines and not to public opinion.”
He said that since the launch of weekly protests at the Gaza border in March, 168 Hamas members were killed, 4,348 injured and dozens of facilities destroyed.
Calm was restored in Gaza last week after a ceasefire agreement was reached between the Palestinian factions under the auspices of Egypt and the United Nations. Israel’s cabinet ordered the army to be ready for any emergent issue that might arise. It also asked the army to target anyone who tries to launch burning kites and balloons.
Meanwhile, the Israeli army field-tested a new fighting method, combining infantry, tanks and combat engineering into one unified force, as part of a major military reform, the military said Sunday.
The method was tested during a drill simulating war in the north against Lebanon’s “Hezbollah”, during which the military also tried out new technologies, including an anti-mortar laser and more accurate artillery, according to Arab-speaking Israeli radio.
The drill saw infantry soldiers from the Golani Brigade, tanks from the 7th Armored Brigade and combat engineering troops from the 603rd Battalion working together, under one unified command, AFP quoted the radio station as saying.
The proposed change is designed to make the military’s ground forces more efficient and better suited, added the station.
Soldiers also tested a new model of precision-guided artillery shells, which are far more accurate than the kind currently in the military’s arsenal.
Eisenkot visited the exercise location and commanded the performance of participating units.“There is a tremendous improvement in our capabilities. If we don’t invest in technology, the battlefield will remain a kingdom of uncertainty,” he noted.