Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Defense Minister Benny Gantz have ordered the IDF to refrain from issuing a response to yesterday’s rocket attack on the Gaza periphery town of Sderot.
This order stands in contrast to the prevailing practice in recent years, including during the previous government’s term of office, when the IDF responded to every single instance of rocket fire out of Gaza, including to the launching of incendiary balloons. Sometimes the response was merely “symbolic” but the IDF was always particular to respond in some manner to terrorist attacks.
Last June, the current Prime Minister – then in the opposition – promised that the residents of the Gaza periphery communities would not be treated as second-class citizens if he were in power. “We won’t tolerate violent attacks of any kind, no matter how minor,” he stated. “Our patience has run out.” Bennett was speaking at an official memorial service for the soldiers who fell during Operation Protective Edge. “In Gaza, they will have to get used to a different kind of Israeli approach – an approach of taking the offensive, of new ways of doing things,” Bennett said then, describing how he would do things if he were given a free hand.
On Monday, a rocket was fired into Israel from Gaza and the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization claimed responsibility, stating that the attack was in revenge for the killing of four Palestinian terrorists who were shot by IDF forces in Jenin, during an operation to arrest several wanted men. The rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome missile shield during the funeral of two of the terrorists.
Speaking immediately after the rocket attack, the head of the Sedot Negev Regional Council, Tamir Eidan, called on the government to issue a harsh response. “Once again, we are witnessing how terrorist organizations dare to openly attack Israeli residents. We must not tolerate a situation in which they are firing at us from Gaza, and we demand that the government respond harshly and immediately to cut down anyone who tries to harm us, without delay.”