Abbas is “choking” Gazans, who are taking out their anger on Israel, Netanyahu warned. Israel is seeking solutions that will restore calm.
By: Zeev Klein, Ariel Kahana and Israel Hayom Staff via JNS
Israel is doing everything in its power to avoid a war with Hamas in Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday at a press briefing.
Asked about the months of heightened tensions and violence along the Gaza border, Netanyahu said that Israel is “trying to find a solution that will restore calm and security to the residents of Gaza-adjacent communities.”
“Because of our actions, the Palestinian side is being very cautious. We don’t want this situation of low-level conflict to continue. … But [Palestinian Authority leader] Mahmoud Abbas is choking them [the residents of Gaza], so they are taking out some of their anger against Israel.”
“We are unwilling to let this situation go on. We’re trying to find solutions, despite the attacks and criticism leveled at me,” Netanyahu told reporters.
He also said that if Hamas attacks Israel, “the price they will pay will be very great.”
“I am not looking to launch unnecessary wars,” he said. “But if there is no alternative, you wage war with all your strength.”
In the meantime, fuel purchased by Qatar arrived in Gaza through Israel on Tuesday in an effort to solve power shortages, but the delivery drew criticism from the Palestinian Authority, which objected to relief being provided to Hamas-controlled Gaza.
Six trucks carrying 450,000 liters of fuel crossed through Kerem Shalom, with at least one making its way to the central power station in Gaza City. The fuel was part of a $60 million fuel donation from Qatar.
Abbas Hounding his own People
According to reports, the PA’s objections to Gaza receiving resources, due to its control by a rival, has resulted in some areas of Gaza receiving just four hours of electricity a day. The new delivery will add several hours per day to the electricity ration for approximately six months.
Fatah and Hamas have long been at each others throats. The antagonism came to a head in 2007, when a short civil war in Gaza resulted in Hamas taking control of the western land strip situated between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. Fatah retains control of the PA, which occupies territory in Judea and Samaria on the eastern side of Israel.
Abbas representatives expressed outrage over the humanitarian aid, saying all supplies to Gaza should be approved by them.
“Any international financial aid to the Gaza Strip should be through, or with the coordination of, the [Fatah-led] Palestinian government,” spokesman Rami Hamdallah told Al Jazeera, saying it was necessary to “preserve Palestinian unity.”
However, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem from Gaza said the deliveries had to be made “through the United Nations because of the vacuum left by the PA.”
In recent months, the PA has slashed the budget to Gaza in a bid to bring Hamas to its knees, including pay cuts to public workers by as much as 30 percent.
Israeli officials expressed concern that a PA withdrawal of $96 million could lead Hamas to attack Israel as a way of gaining legitimacy with its constituency in the wake of a humanitarian crisis, and that the spark in violence could also ignite increased terrorist fervor in Judea and Samaria.