Calls to Take Back Gaza Cause Split in Government

July 16, 2014

5 min read

Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman slammed Israeli ministers for approving a unilateral Egyptian brokered cease-fire on Tuesday.

Liberman called out Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his handling of the situation and not asserting Israel’s strength further to end the rocket fire from terrorists in Gaza once and for all.

“A cease-fire is mere preparation for the next round of violence,” Liberman stated as the cease-fire was fizzling out.

Israel, who agreed to stop military campaigns in Gaza as of 9:00 a.m. Tuesday morning, restarted operations after a six hour pause where terrorists in the Strip shot over 50 rockets into Israel. Upon the announcement of the cease-fire, Hamas and other terrorist groups operating out of Gaza announced that they would never surrender to the “Zionist enemy.”

“Given Hamas’s blatant rejection, we must make a clear decision. All this hesitation works against us. We must go all the way. There is no alternative,” the foreign minister said.

Liberman argued that Israel must launch a full scale invasion into Gaza with the end result of “kicking Hamas out of Gaza.”

“An end result to the operation would see the IDF control Gaza,” Liberman declared.

While not directly mentioning the prime minister, Liberman is clearly taking a much different stance than that of Netanyahu. Netanyahu’s policies have been thus far deemed cautious by many observers and analysts of Operation Protective Edge.

Liberman noted that when Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, Israel did what the world pressured it to do. Returning to pre-1967 lines, Gaza was originally handed over to the Palestinian Authority and eventually into the hands of Hamas. He called on the international community to support Israel in rooting out terror in Gaza.

“We pulled out all the settlers; we evacuated all the settlements. We have to say to the world, you pressed us to do this. Now you have to back us in going in all the way…We have to end this conflict with the IDF in control of all of Gaza…There is no other way to tackle the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror which rules Gaza,” Liberman asserted.

Last Monday, Liberman ended his parties (Yisrael Beiteinu) allegiance with Netanyahu’s Likud citing a difference of opinion on Israel’s response to ongoing rocket fire. Liberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett were the only two cabinet members to vote against the cease-fire proposal.


Bennett said that Israel’s decision to agree to the cease-fire “shows the government weakness.” He added that any time Israel lays down its arms in defense, it is “good for Hamas and bad for Israel…and create a bigger campaign against the south of the country and more rocket attacks in another year.”

MK Eli Yishai (Shas) said the government is not fulfilling its duty of protecting its citizens. “We would have the obligation and the ability to destroy Hamas infrastructure and in turn bring Gaza decades backwards,” he stated.

Communications Minister Gilad Erdan echoed Liberman’s calls to take back Gaza. He stated that Hamas’s rejection of a cease-fire “unveiled to the world that Hamas has only one purpose, and that is to kill as many Israelis as possible.”

Iron Dome fires in Israel's southern region. (Photo: IDF)
Iron Dome fires in Israel’s southern region. (Photo: IDF)

“Israel must now crush the Hamas infrastructure and we must not stop until the job is completed, until the shooting at Israeli citizens will be stopped completely and Gaza is demilitarized from both rockets and tunnels,” he said.

With all the criticism piling up against the government by officials, Netanyahu has responded by firing Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon on Tuesday for his public criticism of the government’s handling of Operation Protective Edge.

“While the government of Israel and the IDF are in the throes of a military campaign against terror groups, and are taking determined steps to defend the security of Israel’s citizens, it is inconceivable that a deputy defense minister should sharply attack the heads of the state who are leading the fighting,” Netanyahu stated in a letter to cabinet ministers on Wednesday.

Earlier Tuesday, Danon called the cease-fire a “slap in the face” for Israeli citizens.

“Hamas is once again setting conditions for us. We must not be humiliated. We must correct the mistake of the cabinet decision from this morning to accept the cease-fire and allow the army to do what it must,” he stated.

Netanyahu accused Danon of giving Hamas further “tools to bash the government of Israel” and that Danon’s comments “reflect a comprehensive irresponsibility, especially considering the post he holds.”

“In light of these statements, which express a lack of faith in the government and in the person standing at its head on a personal level, one would expect the deputy defense minister to take responsibility and resign,” Netanyahu stated. “Since he has not done so of his own volition, I have decided to remove him from his position, pursuant to the authority granted to me by Article 26(3) of the Basic Law: The Government.”

Danny Danon (Photo: Sasson Tiram)
Danny Danon (Photo: Sasson Tiram)

After news of his firing became public, Danon issued a fierce statement against the prime minister.

“The prime minister doesn’t accept that there are other views in his party. Netanyahu has already ingratiated himself to Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] by releasing 78 terrorists just so he could sit at the negotiating table, didn’t respond to the murder of the three youths Gil-ad Shaar, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach, and this morning agreed to a ceasefire that was very bad for Israel,” he said.

“What values will he surrender next time!?” the statement read. “I did not agree, and won’t agree, to this spirit of leftist feebleness by the prime minister, and I won’t sell out my ideology for an office and a driver.”

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the firing of Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon is “a victory for the resistance.” Barhoum attributed Danon’s dismissal to the terror organizations ability to undermine the Israeli government and  “reflects the depth of the crisis the resistance inflicted on the occupation.”

As of Wednesday, terrorists in the Gaza Strip have fired more than 1,000 rockets and mortars into Israel. Israel has carried out some 1,500 airstrikes against terror targets in Gaza. More than 1,750 terror targets have been destroyed.

204 people residing in Palestinian territory in Gaza have been killed in Operation Protective Edge and some 1,500 wounded. Four Israelis have been seriously injured in rocket strikes and one Israeli killed.

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