An Israeli minister warned on Tuesday that the next assault on the occupied and blockaded Gaza Strip would be even more severe than the 2014 offensive.
In an interview with far-right news outlet Arutz Sheva, Science and Technology Minister Ophir Akunis discussed recent developments in Gaza and the potential for escalation.
Addressing warnings by Palestinian factions about the slow pace of the easing of the blockade, Minister Akunis said that Hamas “will understand the actions” of Israel.
Akunis claimed that Hamas has been “attempt[ing] to test us” over “the past two weeks”, referring to a number of incidents at the Gaza perimeter fence where Palestinian youth have carried out independent armed operations.
“The government’s policy is clear. If it seems necessary, there will be very aggressive action in the Gaza Strip,” the minister said.
“It is wrong to talk to the media about the nature of the operation. [We know] ways in which the enemy listens to us at all times and it is not good for him to know what he should prepare for, but it is clear that this campaign on our part will be far more aggressive than Operation Protective Edge and Operation Pillar of Defence” Akunis said.
Operation Pillar of Defence in 2012 saw Israel kill more than 165 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, while Operation Protective Edge in 2014 was an unprecedentedly brutal assault that killed more than 2,200 Palestinians, including some 500 children.
The minister further added that “there is a very wide range of considerations before embarking on this campaign. There are military considerations and additional arms of other systems. The [September] elections will not limit the campaign against the Gaza Strip.”