By Abdul Raouf Arnaout
JERUSALEM (AA) – Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Friday threatened to escalate against Gaza-based Palestinian resistance group Hamas now that last month’s Jewish holidays have ended.
"The holiday month has gone exactly as we planned — without any confrontations or heavy losses among the rioters on the Gaza border," Lieberman tweeted.
"Now that the post-holiday period has come, I tell Hamas leaders to take this into consideration," he added.
In September, Jews celebrated the Sukkot, Yom Kippur and Jewish New Year holidays.
On Thursday, Lieberman ordered the Israeli army to "maintain maximum vigilance" along the Gaza-Israel buffer zone, Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported.
Lieberman reportedly gave the command at a closed-door meeting with senior military officers, including Army Chief-of-Staff Gadi Eizenkot.
He also reportedly told the army to prepare for “any possible scenario”.
For the last six months, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have staged almost-daily demonstrations along the heavily-fortified buffer zone.
Since the demonstrations began on March 30, more than 190 Palestinians have been martyred — and thousands more injured — by Israeli troops deployed along the other side of the buffer zone.
Protesters demand the “right of return” to their homes and villages in historical Palestine, from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.
They also demand an end to Israel’s 12-year-long blockade of Gaza, which has gutted the coastal enclave’s economy and deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.