Israeli ministers threaten to 'assassinate Hamas leader, capture Gaza'
A senior Israeli minister on Wednesday threatened to assassinate Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar, warning that his "time is limited".
Speaking at a conference organised by the Jerusalem Post newspaper, Israeli Housing Minister Yoav Gallant said Hamas's leaders must "recalculate their route" and decide whether to fight Israel or retain the relative quiet of recent days.
"Yahya Sinwar's time is limited," Gallant, a former general who once oversaw operations in the Gaza Strip, said.
"He won't finish his life in a retirement home."
Speaking at the same conference, Israel's Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said it was time for Israel to "move from defence to offence" in its battle with Hamas by "going back to targeted killings of the terrorist leaders of Hamas's military wing."
Erdan also said Israel should be "willing to capture and hold the Gaza Strip until we dismantle the terrorist infrastructure."
Read also: No safe place: When Israeli airstrikes hit, Gaza's children have nowhere to run
"Today we are closer than ever to doing this," he said.
The ministers' bellicose comments come after a week after Israel and Hamas reached a ceasefire deal to end the worst escalation between the two sides since a 2014 war.
The ceasefire deal led hawkish Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman to resign, sparking a coalition crisis that nearly forced early elections.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu managed to avoid early polls when other key coalition members agreed to remain in the government.
Even if the coalition continues to hold, elections are due by November 2019 and politicians have been engaging in campaign-style rhetoric in a country where security issues are always at the forefront.
Lieberman had in the past taken an especially aggressive tone toward Gaza, but backed off after becoming defence minister and said he was committed to "reasonable policy".
Prior to becoming minister, Lieberman had pledged to kill Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh within 48 hours if he did not hand over two detained Israeli civilians and the bodies of soldiers killed in a 2014 war.