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Now Israel's defense minister, Bennett tones down Gaza rhetoric

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett has made many belligerent statements over the years about stronger military action in Gaza, but as defense minister he seems to have adopted a policy of restraint.
Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem January 27, 2019. Abir Sultan/Pool via REUTERS - RC15620896E0
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Last weekend, the Israel Defense Forces faced the unusual situation of all its fronts being challenged simultaneously. On the night of Feb. 6, the Syrian media reported a missile assault on western Damascus targets that caused numerous deaths and wounded many people. In the aftermath, the wave of violence that has flooded Israel and the Palestinian territories ever since the Jan. 28 announcement of US President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” and the annexation declarations has also escalated. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu backing down from annexing West Bank territories before the March 2 elections did little to curb the violence.

In addition to these worrisome signs, the region lacks the strong leadership needed to calm the territory. Netanyahu is occupied by the upcoming crucial elections, the Israeli cabinet is barely functioning, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is in the twilight of his rulership and more worried about his legacy than the current situation. Thus, the few remaining stabilizing agents of the region face serious challenges.

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