Gaza: 'No desire for escalation, ready for self-defense-Gantz

'We tell Hamas, Islamic Jihad: your time is up'

05 August, 15:41

    (ANSAmd) - TEL AVIV, AUGUST 5 - Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Friday told Gaza leaders that the "situation in southern Israel is tense", after Islamic Jihad repeatedly threatened to carry out attacks against Israel over the past few days. "We are not looking for conflict but we would not hesitate to defend our citizens, if necessary".

    "To our enemies, in particular to the leaders of Hamas and of Islamic Jihad, I want to say that time is up. This threat will be removed, in one way or another".

    The escalation at the border between Israel and Gaza began four days ago after the head of Islamic Jihad in the West Bank, Bassam a-Saadi, was captured.

    The military wing of his organization declared the state of maximum alert among militants and threatened to attack. Israel fears in particular that anti-tank rockets could be launched from Gaza against Israeli vehicles in transit at the border of the West Bank and has closed traffic along several roads and part of the railway line.

    Gantz also accused Hamas and the Islamic Jihad of "holding hostage" the population of the Gaza Strip and of causing its suffering, for the prolonged closure of crossings between Gaza and Israel.

    In an attempt to avoid an escalation, Egypt has acted as a mediator between Israel and the Islamic Jihad. A UN member, according to media reports, also visited the family of a-Saadi to assure he is in good health after reports claimed he was wounded during his arrest.

    Addressing the international community, in particular those who tried to ease tensions, Gantz assured that "Israel behaves in a responsible and controlled manner". (ANSAmed)
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