Jonathan Lis
November 15, 2011 - 1:00am

Recent bouts of violence along Israel's border with the Gaza Strip are leading toward significant and offensive military action in the coastal enclave, Israel Defense Forces chief Benny Gantz said on Tuesday, adding that there was still a chance for a flare-up of West Bank violence over the Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations.

Gantz's comments came just 24 hours following the latest confrontation along the Gaza border, as Israel Air Force planes carried out a strike early Monday after Palestinian militants in Hamas-run Gaza fired a rocket at southern Israel.

Palestinian officials say a Hamas naval policeman has been killed and seven others have been wounded in an Israeli airstrike on their building in the northern Gaza Strip.

Addressing the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday, the IDF chief referred to the air strike in Gaza, saying that IAF planes targeted a squad experimenting with long-range missiles.

"The strike injured and inhibited the advancement of Islamic Jihad's rocket production," Gantz said, adding that "recent rounds of escalated violence and the injury of both lives and the daily routine of citizens of Israel's south are leading to a reality in which the IDF will have to take significant, aggressive action in the Gaza Strip."

Gantz added that such a move would have to be "initiated and orderly."

The IDF chief of staff also referred to the relative quiet in the West Bank following the Palestinian Authority's bid at recognition in the UN, saying that "September isn't a date, it's a process."

"[IDF] alertness is still in place. Events have been contained thus far, but, despite that, we are still ready and it's possible that the situation could escalate with more events unfolding," he said, adding: "As time goes by, in the face of continued Palestinian disappointment, the chance of a violent outburst is still there."

Gantz also spoke of Israel's changed attitude toward its border with Egypt over increased terror activity in the Sinai, saying that the peninsula housed terror infrastructures tied both to Gaza militants and to Global jihad terror cells, "in violation of Egyptian sovereignty."

"That is why the army is reevaluating its entire thinking in the south. Today, 30 contractors are working simultaneously with 400 workers to erect the [border] fence at an accelerated pace, with 70 kilometers already completed," the IDF chief said, adding he expected the barrier to be completed by late 2012.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017