Sept. 13 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday war in the Gaza Strip "could happen at any moment," perhaps even before snap elections next week, when he could be replaced as Israeli leader.
Netanyahu hinted a possible military operation in Gaza after returning from a visit to Russia, where he met with President Vladimir Putin. He made the comments after an exchange of fire this week between Israeli forces and Hamas. Netanyahu has faced criticism that he and his Cabinet haven't been tough enough on the militant group.
"It looks like there will be no other choice but to embark on a wide-scale campaign in Gaza," he said Thursday, adding that the "date of the elections does not factor [into a decision to go to war.]"
Netanyahu visited Putin in the Russian resort city of Sochi. There, the Kremlin leader made clear that he opposes another controversial remark from Netanyahu -- that he will annex Palestinian lands in the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea area.The Knesset election Tuesday is a rerun of a vote in April, when Netanyahu's Likud Party won a majority but the prime minister failed to assemble a coalition government. He is expected to face tough competition from former military commander Benny Gantz, a leader of the Blue and White Party.
The Israeli prime minister said Putin considers the snap elections Tuesday important to Russia, and hopes it will lead to continued diplomacy with Moscow. He also said Putin thanked him for improving security ties between the nations.