Hamas rockets aimed at Tel Aviv is tantamount to a declaration of war from the terrorist group and Israel will do whatever is necessary to protect its people and remove the threat, according to retired Israeli Brigadier Gen. Elihu Ben-Onn.
On Wednesday, Israeli Defense Forces targeted and killed Ahmed Jabari, the militant leader of Hamas. In response, Hamas is launching even more rockets — this time into the suburbs of Tel Aviv.
"Absolutely this is a declaration of war by those bloody Muslim radical terrorists, Hamas, Palestinian terrorists. That's a new situation in the Middle East," Ben-Onn told WND.
The threat of rockets fired from Gaza reaching the Tel Aviv area is only a recent one. Ben-Onn says Hamas has expanded its range thanks to weapons from another threat to Israel.
"We know that those terrorists in the last two, three years got some ammunition and missiles and rockets from Iran," he said, noting that some components are coming through Lebanon and Sudan and give Hamas the possibility to enhance and enlarge the range of the missiles.
Ben-Onn says when Israel left Gaza voluntarily in 2005, militant rockets had a range of only five kilometers. In the subsequent seven years, Hamas has acquired rockets and missiles that increased the range to 10 miles and now they can reach targets 30 miles away.
Ben-Onn supported the controversial decision by then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to unilaterally leave Gaza seven years ago as a gesture toward peace. The general now says that didn't move the peace process forward. It only exposed the true intentions of the Palestinians.
"The conclusion is very clear," said Ben-Onn. "If you give territory to terrorists, like other criminals, you cannot trust them. Hamas keeps saying Israel has no right to live in this area, 'we do not recognize your existence. You should leave the state of Israel.'"
Ben-Onn says there is a distinct difference between the rhetoric and levels of radicalism between Palestinians in Gaza led by Hamas and those in the West Bank represented by Fatah.
Another wildcard in this clash between Israel and Hamas is the role of the new Egyptian government ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood. Ben-Onn says the relationship between Israel and Egypt has definitely changed, but he's convinced Egypt won't do anything radical in this conflict because of it's reliance on American military aid and other foreign aid.