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Wednesday, March 31, 2010    

Israel 'will not tolerate' continuing Hamas buildup

JERUSALEM — Israel now considers the prospect of another war with the Hamas regime all but inevitable.   

Officials said the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been briefed by the military on the renewed Hamas threat from the Gaza Strip. They said most of the Cabinet agreed that Israel must be prepared for a major operation in the Gaza Strip.

"Sooner or later we will liquidate the military regime of the pro-Iranian Hamas which controls the Gaza Strip," Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said.

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In an interview with Israel state radio on March 28, Steinitz, a leading ally of Netanyahu, referred to the spate of Palestinian attacks along the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip, Middle East Newsline reported. On March 27, two Israeli soldiers were killed in an ambush claimed by both Hamas and the Iranian-sponsored Islamic Jihad.

"I am not setting a timetable, but we will not tolerate this regime continuing to strengthen itself militarily and providing itself with an arsenal of rockets that threaten our territory," Steinitz said.

On March 30, Israeli soldiers fired into a march by thousands of Gazans toward the eastern border with the Jewish state. The Palestinians said one person was killed and several were injured.

Officials said Hamas has renewed attacks on Israel for the first time since the war in the Gaza Strip in December 2008 and January 2009. They said the Hamas campaign has sparked plans for a massive Israeli retaliation.

"We have no choice," Steinitz said.

Officials said Hamas has also enabled Palestinian militias in the Gaza Strip to attack Israel's security fence. Still, they said, the Islamic regime continues to restrain the militias from missile and rocket strikes.

For his part, Netanyahu warned Hamas of Israeli retaliation.

"Israel's policy of retaliation is forceful and decisive," Netanyahu told the Cabinet on March 28. "This policy is well-known and will continue. Hamas and the other terror organizations need to know that they are the ones that are responsible for their own actions."

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