Economy Minister Naftali Bennett assailed the government late Saturday for its restrained response to Palestinian rocket attacks on the western Negev.

In an official press release, Bennett, who has emerged as the most hawkish member of the cabinet and the most outspoken critic of the military's relatively tepid retaliation to the barrage of rockets in the south, said that "restraint in the face of rockets on women and children is not power."

"The strategy of 'quiet will be met with quiet' harms Israeli deterrence and allows Hamas to gain more strength for the next round," the Bayit Yehudi chairman said. "Showing restraint in the face of the execution of three children [who were kidnapped in the West Bank last month] is weakness."

"From Syria to Wadi Ara, people are watching the residents of Beersheba run frantically to bombs shelters, expecting a powerful response, and interpreting the non-response as fear of taking action. One million people are staying close to the shelters, and this is an intolerable situation."

"The residents of the south are not second-class citizens," Bennett said. "We need to respond to rocket fire on Beersheba just as we would on rockets at Tel Aviv, and not to wait for rockets to hit Tel Aviv."

"I don't accept the viewpoint that there is no way to stop the missiles," Bennett said. "The nation of Israel is showing exceptional fortitude. It is ready to enlist for any mission, and the statement needs to be made clear – no missiles on the cities of Israel."



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