“All Israelis should know that if a comprehensive campaign is required, we will enter it strong and safe, and after we have exhausted all of the other possibilities,” Netanyahu said after visiting the Gaza frontier, where he met some Israeli commanders.
His comments came after two consecutive nights of heavy Israeli bombardments, which wounded several Palestinians but were responded to with a rocket attack from the enclave. The attack wounded seven Israelis in Mishmeret, an agricultural town north of Tel Aviv, on Monday, and forced Netanyahu to cut short his visit to the US.
An Israeli airstrike has wounded at least three young Palestinians in the northern parts of the blockaded Gaza Strip.
Palestinian resistance groups on Wednesday fired rockets into Israel in response to the regime’s airstrikes on several areas, including the town of Khan Yunis and the Rafah border crossing south of Gaza City.
Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip say Israeli airstrikes on Rafah damaged residential homes and electricity network.
The rockets fired from Gaza have turned into a major security challenge for Netanyahu ahead of Israel’s April 9 election. In power for a decade and beset by corruption allegations, he is facing his strongest electoral challenge from a centrist coalition led by a former general.
The Israeli military has deployed artillery and tank brigades along the so-called buffer zone with Gaza.
“The military will resort to a very strong hand against anyone trying to confront our troops,” Israeli security cabinet minister Arye Deri told Army Radio.
The UN’s special coordinator for the Middle East peace process expressed concerns Tuesday over the escalation of violence.
“I am concerned that we may, once again, be facing another very dangerous escalation of violence in Gaza, with potentially catastrophic consequences,” Nickolay Mladenov told the UN Security Council.
“The last two days show how precariously close we came to the brink of war once again.”
Gazans plan mass rallies
In Gaza, organizers have announced plans for a massive protest on Saturday along the border to mark the first anniversary of weekly demonstrations at which Israeli forces have already killed more than 260 Palestinians.
Over 26,000 Palestinians have also sustained injuries ever since the anti-occupation protest rallies, known as the Great March of Return, began in the Gaza Strip on March 30, 2018.
The United Nations Human Rights Council said last week that Israeli troops may have committed war crimes by using excessive force against the protests.
The United Nations (UN)’s Human Rights Council denounces Israel’s use of “unlawful lethal and other excessive force” against Palestinian protesters in the Gaza Strip.
The Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14 last year, on the eve of the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day (Day of Catastrophe), which coincided that year with the US embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to occupied East Jerusalem al-Quds.