Netanyahu: US envoys offered ‘complete support’ for handling of Gaza clashes

Residents post pictures showing white trail left behind by anti-aircraft missile; the military says the air defense system didn’t hit the UAV, which approached Israeli territory

US President Donald Trump's senior adviser Jared Kushner (right) meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on June 22, 2018. (Matty Stern/US Embassy Jerusalem/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said he received “complete support” from the US peace team during their meetings over the weekend regarding Israel’s response to clashes on the Gaza border.

Netanyahu met with Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, and peace envoy Jason Greenblatt on Friday and Saturday as they visited the region to push the Trump’s peace plan. They discussed US peace efforts and the humanitarian and security situation in Gaza, according to Netanyahu’s office.

“I must say there was complete support for our positions and actions to ensure the security of the State of Israel and its citizens in the Gaza communities,” said Netanyahu at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.

Israel has faced weekly clashes on its border with the Gaza Strip since March 30, as well as hundreds of fires sparked by burning kites and balloons flown from the Palestinian enclave.

The Jewish state has faced international criticism over its handling of the violent “March of Return” protests, in which the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says 132 Palestinians have been killed. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have acknowledged many of those killed were members of the terror groups.

Israel has defended its response, saying troops opened fire in accordance with army regulations. It has accused Hamas, which rules Gaza, of using the clashes as cover to carry out attacks and breach the border.

Tear gas is fired at Palestinians taking part in clashes and burning tires along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, east of Gaza City, on June 22, 2018. (AFP Photo/Mahmud Hams)

Netanyahu said he also discussed with Kushner and Greenblatt how to solve the humanitarian problem in Gaza without strengthening Hamas.

“These things are clear — first of all how to maintain security and how to prevent a broad conflagration, if this is at all possible,” added Netanyahu.

Earlier this month, Netanyahu said Israel is working to prevent a “humanitarian collapse” in Gaza and blamed the border violence on economic conditions in the Palestinian enclave.

A picture taken on June 1, 2018 shows a girl running past hovels near a sewage water pool at a poor neighborhood in Gaza City. (AFP/Mahmud Hams)

Gaza faces a lack of electricity, drinkable water, and food. Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade on the Strip which they say is designed to prevent Hamas from importing weapons and other goods that could be used to build fortifications or tunnels.

Israel has also said the humanitarian situation will not improve until Hamas returns the bodies of two IDF soldiers and the two civilians captives it holds. It blames Hamas for the dire situation, charging the terror group with diverting millions in aid to purchase weapons, dig tunnels, manufacture rockets and train its military wing, instead of using it for the welfare of its people.

The situation has been exacerbated by an ongoing dispute between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, which has cut the salaries it pays to workers in Gaza and imposed various sanctions, including cutting of payments for electricity supplies to Gaza.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

Times Of Israel

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