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Israel to attack Gaza if protest continues: Netanyahu

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Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli troops on the Gaza-Israel border, east of Gaza City, on Feb. 1, 2019. Xinhua

JERUSALEM (NNN-MA’AN) – Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has issued a warning that Israel “will not hesitate” to use force against the Gaza Strip, if the protest near the fence continues.

“I would like to make it clear,” Mr Netanyahu said at the start of his weekly cabinet meeting, “if the quiet is not maintained in Gaza, we will make the decisions, even in the elections period and will not hesitate to act.”

He added that construction works to build a new barrier between Israel and the besieged Palestinian enclave began over the weekend.

“The barrier will prevent terrorists from Gaza from penetrating into our territory on the ground,” Mr Netanyahu said.

Israel has recently conveyed a message to Hamas, an Islamist movement that runs Gaza, through Egyptian brokers, warning that, it might launch a military campaign if the weekly demonstrations continue, the Hebrew-language Channel 12 TV reported.

Israel’s last large-scale military campaign in Gaza took place in 2014, claiming the lives of 2,251 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, and 71 people in Israel, mostly soldiers.

Last March, Palestinians in Gaza launched the “March of Return” protest, in which tens of thousands of protesters rally near the fence separating Gaza and Israel, mostly during the weekends.

Israel accuses Hamas of orchestrating the protest. But Palestinians say the rallies aim to protest the crippling blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt since 2007.

Israel occupied Gaza, along with the West Bank, in the 1967 Middle East war and has retained its control over these lands ever since, in a move criticised internationally.

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