Netanyahu tells ministers to 'prepare for war with Hamas'
Israel’s prime minister warned top-level politicians that Israel is preparing for the possibility of a military campaign in the Gaza Strip should the situation in the besieged enclave escalate further.
According to a TV report by Israeli Hadashot news, Binyamin Netanyahu warned of an escalation in Gaza should the humanitarian conditions in the territory cause more protests on the Gaza border fence.
“If the reality of civil distress in Gaza becomes obsolete, that is desirable; though this is certainly not going to occur. Because of this, we are preparing militarily," he reportedly said.
"This is not an empty statement,” he warned.
His comments echo Israeli defence minister Avigdor Lieberman's warning that Israel is the most it has been prepared for war since the last decade.
"We're at the highest level of preparedness since the Six-Day War," Lieberman avowed in an interview with Israeli news outlet Ynet published on Tuesday.
The Six-Day War was fought in 1967, which led to Israel capturing the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan, and the Golan Heights from Syria after its decisive victory.
"I'm not just saying it because this is what I think, [I'm saying it] as someone who has been sitting on the (Security) Cabinet for decades", he urged.
Snipers, infantry and armoured vehicles were moved to the Gaza border, as fears mounted that there could be a bloodbath at the protests.
Demonstrations began in March for the right of refugees in Gaza to return their homes lost since the 1948 creation of Israel, with at least 193 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces who have used live fire on the unarmed protesters.
Human rights groups and the UN have condemned Israel's overwhelming use of force to disperse the demonstrations.
The leader of Hamas' political wing, Yahya Sinwar, told an Israeli newspaper this week that although an "explosion is inevitable" he believed "a new war [with Israel] is not in anybody's interest", and called for an end to the siege on Gaza.