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Israeli Minister Threatens Hamas’s Gaza Leader

Israeli Minister Threatens Hamas’s Gaza Leader

Wednesday, 21 November, 2018 - 11:45
Hamas chief Ismail Haniya (L) and Gaza's Hamas chief Yehya al-Sinwar gesture to supporters during a rally in Gaza City December 14, 2017. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Israel’s Housing Minister Yoav Gallant declared on Wednesday that the days of Hamas's leader in the Gaza Strip were numbered.

"Yehya al-Sinwar's time is limited," said Gallant, a former general who once oversaw operations in the Gaza Strip. "He won't finish his life in a retirement home."

The official made his remarks days after a controversial truce ended a severe flare-up and triggered a coalition crisis.

Speaking at a conference organized by the Jerusalem Post newspaper, Gallant said Hamas's leaders must "recalculate their route" and decide whether to fight Israel or retain the relative quiet of recent days.

A ceasefire with Hamas last week ended the worst escalation between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since a 2014 war.

But the deal led hawkish Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to resign in disagreement, sparking a coalition crisis that nearly forced early elections.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu managed to avoid early polls when other key coalition members agreed to remain in the government.

Speaking at the same conference, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said it was time for Israel to "move from defense to offense" in its battle with Hamas by "going back to targeted killings of the terrorist leaders of Hamas's military wing."

Erdan also said Israel should be "willing to capture and hold the Gaza Strip until we dismantle the terrorist infrastructure."

"Today we are closer than ever to doing this," he said.

Netanyahu has taken a more cautious approach to Gaza, saying he wants to avoid war if it is unnecessary.

He has allowed Qatar to provide the blockaded enclave with millions in aid and defended last week's ceasefire.

His backers say he and his security chiefs are in agreement on their approach to Gaza, while many analysts warn against starting another war without a clear strategy for how it will end.

Lieberman had in the past taken an especially aggressive tone toward Gaza, but backed off after becoming defense minister and said he was committed to "reasonable policy".

Prior to becoming minister, Lieberman had pledged to kill Hamas leader Ismail Haniya within 48 hours if he did not hand over two detained Israeli civilians and the bodies of soldiers killed in a 2014 war. Haniya was not killed.

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said that US President Donald Trump was wasting his time trying to push for an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

Reaching peace is currently impossible and Trump should focus his energy elsewhere until the Palestinians are ready to compromise, he added.

Speaking at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference, Shaked says "I think personally it is a waste of time."

The US is preparing to release its long-anticipated Middle East peace plan, which Trump calls the "Deal of the Century."

Trump's Mideast team, headed by his adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been working on a peace proposal for months but has not said when it will be released. The Palestinians consider the plan a non-starter, accusing Trump of being unfairly biased toward Israel.

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