Though he balked at setting any timeline for when it would happen, Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz promised that Israel would “sooner or later” invade and reoccupy the Gaza Strip, liquidating Hamas in the process.
Minister Steinitz, a member of the ruling Likud Party, said that Israel would have to reoccupy the Gaza Strip to prevent Hamas from rearming and that it was “left with no choice” in the matter.
Tensions along the border with the strip have been on the rise since a Friday clash inside the strip in which two members of the Hamas security force and two members of the Israeli military were slain. Israel responded to the clash by sending tanks and military bulldozers against the town of Khan Younis.
It was the first major incident along the border since the end of the January 2009 Israeli invasion of Gaza, an invasion which left over 1,400 Palestinians killed and much of the strip in ruins. 14 months later the Israeli blockade has largely prevented reconstruction of the damaged homes and businesses in the territory.
After replacing its formal military occupation with a long standing blockade on all but the bare minimum of humanitarian goods, Israeli officials have often discussed the inevitability, from their perspective, of reoccupying the territory. Yet with the blockade and the invasion turning the strip into a humanitarian disaster a new military occupation and the new legal responsibilities that come with it must certainly seem like an undesirable result.