Israeli ministers warn of possible escalation in Gaza

Ben Harris

(JTA) — Two Israeli ministers warned of a possible escalation along Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett said Tuesday that a conflict in Gaza is a “matter of when, not if,” the Times of Israel reported. And in an interview with Army Radio on Tuesday, Housing Minister Yoav Galant, a former general and head of the army’s southern command, said Hamas “might … be drawn to escalation in the spring or the summer.”

The comments come after a day of tensions in Gaza on Monday, beginning with an early morning rocket launch from the coastal territory that landed near the Israeli city of Ashkelon, causing no injuries. Later in the day, an Israeli patrol came under fire near the Gaza border. In response, Israel struck several Hamas positions with air strikes and tank shells.

Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Peter Lerner told the Times of Israel that the military has no desire to see the situation escalate further.

“We have no interest in an escalation of violence, but are determined to fulfill our obligation and protect the people of Israel from attacks originating in Gaza,” Lerner said.