Israel ready for another war with Hamas: Defence minister

Jerusalem, Feb 23 (IANS) Israel’s defence minister said on Monday that Israel was preparing for the possibility of another round of fighting against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon made the comments on board USS Carney, an American battleship currently located in Haifa amid a joint US-Israeli military drill, Xinhua news agency reported.

“We’ve been enjoying unprecedented quiet, Hamas hasn’t fired one bullet,” Ya’alon told reporters on Monday, referring to the relative quiet since the end of the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.

The defence minister also acknowledged an increase in Hamas’s strength.

“Hamas is trying to arm itself with rockets,” Ya’alon said, noting Hamas were conducting tests on rockets that are fired into the sea. He also reckoned Hamas was building underground tunnels to carry out attacks against Israel.

“We’ve been preparing for the possibility that at some point will be opened in the south, and we’ll have to deal with it … We’ re not stagnate and we operate both with defensive and offensive measures,” he added.

More than 70 Israelis and over 2,000 Palestinians were killed in the 2014 war, since which there had been few, sporadic rocket attacks against southern Israeli communities — believed by military officials to be mostly the work of Islamist groups within the strip.

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