(February 9, 2020 / JNS) Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said on Saturday that the way to weaken Hamas was to focus on weakening Iran, which he called “the head of the octopus.”
Speaking at a campaign event at a synagogue in Givat Shmuel near Tel Aviv, the Yamina Party leader said Israel was stepping up its actions against Tehran, though stressing that this did not mean all-out war.
“We are in the process of switching to hurting the head of the octopus—Iran’s power. I am not necessarily talking about a full-blown war with Iran tomorrow; it is more similar to the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, with the two regional powers Israel and Iran,” he said.
Israel would now target all Iranian weapons shipments to Hezbollah instead of one in five as previously, said Bennett, adding that Israel and America had agreed that Israel would target Iran in Syria while the United States fought it in Iraq.
Syria, said Bennett, was “a bad place for Iran to be,” adding that Israel aims to turn the country into “their Vietnam.”
With regard to the Gaza Strip, Bennett said that he personally approves Israeli strikes on Gaza targets in response to the continued onslaught of airborne incendiary devices and rockets, and that the targets “are not [empty] hills. … The targets are machines producing rockets, rocket factories, parts of [cross-border] tunnels. These days we are slowing their rocket production.”
He added that he was crafting a plan for a major military operation, from which “nobody in the Hamas leadership will be immune.” However, he added that his aim was not to send troops into the Gaza Strip, as this would be “playing on their home turf.” Rather, the goal should be “relocating the game to our home turf” by weakening Iran.
On the political front, Bennett expressed regarding the ultra-Orthodox parties, which he said were interested only in money.
“These days we are slowing their rocket production.”
“The ultra-Orthodox just say ‘show me the money.’ You want a Palestinian state? Have a Palestinian state. You don’t want a Palestinian state? Don’t have a Palestinian state. You want this or that economic process, the Second Lebanon War? They just say ‘show me the money,’ ” said Bennett.
The Yamina Party leader said there is “zero chance” that he will join a coalition led by Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party, saying, “the DNA of the party is leftist anti-religious.”
Also on Saturday, Bennett urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “bring the application of sovereignty in Judea and Samaria for an immediate vote in the government.”
The alternative, said Bennett, was a “Palestinian terror state.”
“Prime minister, we stand with you! Without sovereignty, we will have a Palestinian terror state with Jerusalem as its capital,” said Bennett.
The remarks came after Netanyahu addressed a Likud conference in Ma’ale Adumim, in which he warned that “without Judea and Samaria, our existence is in danger. Without our homeland, we have no existence, we are left hanging—we have no past, we have no future,” said Netanyahu. “This is our identity and our legacy, and our future is here. Therefore, our enemies are trying to uproot us from the heart of our homeland. They will not succeed. We are here, and we will always remain here.”
On Sunday, Likud sources were quoted by Reshet Bet as saying that Bennett’s emphasis on annexation was out of line, and that he was not privy to the intricacies of the work Israel had done with the Americans over the last three years.
“While Bennett makes these speeches, he is holding secret talks with Benny Gantz to form a government that will be dependent on the votes of Ahmad Tibi. Meanwhile, we are working out the borders of sovereignty, which will be finished soon,” the source was quoted as saying.
According to Arutz Sheva, the Yamina Party responded by saying, “It’s not clear why Netanyahu is so anxious to shoot down one of his allies and natural partners, as we have been in the past and will be in the future.”
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