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Reports: Netanyahu Wanted War in Gaza but Israeli Military Refused

Reports: Netanyahu Wanted War in Gaza but Israeli Military Refused

Wednesday, 18 September, 2019 - 05:30
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a televised statement after a meeting of his ruling Likud party in Ramat Gan on February 21, 2019. (Menahem Kahana/AFP)
Tel Aviv - Asharq Al-Awsat

In new information released in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, political and military sources confirmed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was seriously working this month on forcing the military to go to war in the Gaza Strip, which would have postponed the general elections.

Hebrew newspapers wrote that the PM sent National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat to meet with Central Elections Committee head Hana Melcer to prepare for the possibility of delaying the general election due to war.

Netanyahu said he needed to respond to a rocket attack that appeared to target one of his rallies.

Last week, two rockets were fired toward the coastal city of Ashdod, situated between the Palestinian enclave and Tel Aviv, and nearby Ashkelon, while the prime minister was speaking to voters at the time, and was therefore forced to leave the stage for a bomb shelter.

Netanyahu then discussed the issue with top military commanders at the Defense Ministry, where he raised the possibility of a “far-reaching” military operation.

The reports said that the PM was almost about to order the military to go to war in the Gaza Strip.

However, Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit persuaded the PM to back off, citing a 2018 law that prohibits the prime minister and defense minister from declaring war or authorizing significant military operations without cabinet approval.

The KAN Israeli public broadcaster reported that Israel was closer to a wide-range military operation against the Gaza Strip more than anytime before.

It quoted Israeli security officials as saying that the rocket fired toward Ashdod does not require an Israeli response in the size suggested by Netanyahu.

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