Netanyahu to Hamas and Iranian proxies: One-upmanship will cost you ‘dearly’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted on Sunday to threats made this weekend by a Hamas leader, saying that the terrorists would “pay dearly”.

On Friday, Saleh al-Arouri, deputy head of Hamas’ political bureau, told Lebanese media that any targeted assassination by Israel of one of the leaders of the terror organization would result in a veritable “regional war”.

At the start of the Cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu said he “heard the verbiage of Arouri, a senior Hamas official, from his hiding place in Lebanon. He knows very well why he and his colleagues are hiding. »

Hamas and other Iranian proxies know well that we will fight terrorism by all means, whether in Judea and Samaria, Gaza or anywhere else,” Netanyahu said, speaking of the West Bank and the coastal enclave. Palestinians under Hamas control. “Those who threaten, finance and scheme and send terrorists against Israel will pay dearly. »

The terms “everywhere else” and “Iranian proxies” used by the Prime Minister echo previous statements interpreted to mean that Israel’s response to terrorism could translate into actions beyond its borders or in the West Bank and the Gaza strip.

Last week, the Israeli Security Council met following deadly terrorist attacks in the West Bank and Netanyahu’s cabinet announced that ministers had agreed on “retaliatory measures against terrorists and had authorized the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense to act on the matter”.

No details have officially leaked on the exact nature of these measures, but according to leaks, the resumption of targeted assassinations is one of them.

In an interview with Lebanese pro-Hezbollah outlet Al Mayadeen, al-Arouri said Israel decided to go after several figures, including senior Hamas military commander Muhammed Deif, wanted for years for his involvement. in large-scale terrorist attacks and which has so far thwarted numerous assassination attempts by Israel.

Al-Arouri, who is himself wanted by Israel for orchestrating the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers in 2014, further blamed far-right members of the government for wanting to expel Palestinians from the West Bank and take control of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

“The leaders of the occupying government and their extremist policies will provoke an all-out war,” he said. “Some plan to take control of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and divide it, others plan assassinations, knowing that this will lead to a regional war. »

“If we come to the frontal confrontation, Israel will be beaten like never before, that’s for sure,” he added.

Al-Arouri added that Hamas was “preparing for all-out war. We are discussing the prospects of this war closely with all stakeholders,” referring to recent threats against Israel by the leader of the Hezbollah terror organization, Hassan Nasrallah.

“This all-out war will be a defeat for Israel,” al-Arouri said.

Arabic-language media have also reported that terrorist leaders in the Gaza Strip are now doubling their caution for fear of being targeted by Israel.

In addition to Cabinet leaks, Netanyahu and his defense minister, Yoav Gallant, recently blamed “Iran and its cancer-like proxies” for the upsurge in attacks, citing possible strikes in beyond the West Bank.

Violence has escalated in the West Bank over the past 18 months, from Palestinian gunfire on civilians and Israeli soldiers to almost daily nighttime interventions by the army to make arrests and retaliatory actions by residents of extremist settlements against the Palestinians.

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