Senior Israeli minister says Hamas leaders live in danger if violent protests continue

Minister Yoav Gallant calls Hamas “angel of death” to Gaza’s population, says improving humanitarian conditions would serve Israel's security interests • Minister Gilad Erdan says Hamas leaders should be afraid for their lives, not mobilizing terrorism.

Thousands of Palestinians protest by the border fence, as seen from the Israeli side, on the same day that the new U.S. embassy opened in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. Photo by Flash90.
Thousands of Palestinians protest by the border fence, as seen from the Israeli side, on the same day that the new U.S. embassy opened in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. Photo by Flash90.

In an explicit threat, Israel’s Minister of Construction and Housing Yoav Gallant said on Tuesday that the lives of Hamas military leader Yahya Sinwar and other Hamas strongmen would be in danger if “Hamas continues to make mistakes.”

“The Hamas organization is facing a mounting crisis,” said Gallant, a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Security Cabinet, at a Tel Aviv defense conference. “The paths of terror are becoming increasingly blocked and there is great difficulty in executing terrorist attacks.”

Referring to a network of attack tunnels dug by Hamas under the Gaza border, which the Israeli military has been systematically destroying, Gallant noted that “the tunnels are closing one by one.”

“Hamas is the angel of death to Gaza’s innocent civilian population,” he continued. “Hamas has taken 2 million people hostage.”

Gallant made the remarks a day after the deadliest day of clashes between Israel and Gaza since 2014. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, nearly 60 demonstrators were killed on Monday during violent border riots, including an 8-month-old baby who died after inhaling tear gas. More than 2,000 Gazans were injured in the riots, which erupted at several flashpoints.

Gallant’s menacing remarks may be indicative of deliberations within the cabinet over potentially restoring Israel’s policy of targeted assassinations.

Gallant, the former Israel Defense Forces’ South Commander, went on to say that “Hamas is taking women and children and sending them to the front lines with the hopes that their blood will generate a provocation around the world.”

He addressed the current humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where water and electricity are in short supply, arguing that “an improved humanitarian reality in Gaza is a clear Israeli security interest.”

On the topic of Iran, Gallant said “Israel now has an opportunity to root Iran out of Syria. It could take a month, or it could take a year, but a window of opportunity has opened and we will take advantage of it and push Iran back for many years to come.”

Reiterating Israel’s adamant refusal to allow Iran to establish a menacing military presence in neighboring Syria, Gallant declared that “we will not permit another front on the Golan Heights. We won’t allow Iran to establish a military presence in Syria and we won’t allow anyone to turn Syria into a military base with game-changing weapons.”

Also on Tuesday, Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan echoed Gallant’s threats, urging the Israeli government to reinstate targeted assassinations against Hamas operatives, asserting that doing so would be a “partial solution to the situation in Gaza.”

“It’s time for Hamas leaders to pay a personal price for organizing these terrorist activities,” said Erdan. “The heads of Hamas—Yahya Sinwar and others—who have declared that they are willing to die by the security fence, by all means, go right ahead.”

“We need to restore targeted assassinations,” he reiterated. “They need to go back to hiding underground and being afraid for their lives. They can’t be going around organizing the masses and mobilizing terrorists.”

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