Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was not honest with the people of Israel regarding the fate of the Gaza Strip, opposition leader Isaac Herzog said in a speech to residents of Netiv Ha’asara, a moshav on the Gaza border, on Tuesday.
Herzog backed Netanyahu throughout Operation Protective Edge, but he has been increasingly critical since IDF troops pulled out last week.
“Whoever said they would topple Hamas from power lied,” the Labor Party chairman said. “The real victory will only come in a diplomatic agreement and not in any other way. The problem is that the citizens are not being told the truth, which is that it could take weeks but in the end there will be a deal that will lead to quiet.”
Shas chairman Arye Deri said Netanyahu’s governing coalition had already fallen apart before the operation.
He accused the leaders of Bayit Yehudi and Yisrael Beytenu of “cynically” using the operation to build up their right-wing credentials instead of supporting the prime minister during a security crisis.
“The opposition gave full support to the government since the kidnappings of the boys [the three teenagers kidnapped near Hebron on June 12], but inside the coalition, since the war started, they forgot that during a war you don’t criticize a prime minister,” Deri told Israel Radio.
“They are giving a big victory to Hamas, which sees the coalition and the government crumbling. When ministers say the prime minister did not achieve anything, for what did we fight, lose 64 soldiers, lose billions and make residents of the South suffer?” Netanyahu also faced criticism from right-wing MKs inside the Likud ahead of a possible agreement with Hamas to extend the ceasefire.
“The agreement would cancel out all the achievements of Operation Protective Edge and crown Hamas the victor,” Deputy Transportation Minister Tzipi Hotovely warned. “Any situation in which Hamas gets benefits would shame the heroism of our soldiers.”
MK Danny Danon said that if Hamas leaders Ismail Haniyeh and Mahmoud Zahar are granted immunity in such an agreement it would significantly harm Israel’s deterrence.
“You don’t make deals with a terrorist organization,” Danon said. “The apparent understandings would enable Hamas to rehabilitate its standing on the Arab street and its military capabilities, which will be turned on us whenever Hamas leaders choose.”
MK Miri Regev said that “any deal with Hamas would jump-start them to the next attack, which will be even worse for both sides.”