(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman drew a comparison on Tuesday between Israeli opposition lawmakers and rogue terrorists in Gaza, claiming in an interview that both were trying to push the government into a war with Hamas.
"They [the opposition leaders] want to drag us into an all out war with Hamas, just like the extremist organizations in Gaza," Liberman said in an interview to Army Radio.
Liberman made the comments in reference to criticism voiced at the government over its military responses to increased rocket fire from the Gaza Strip in recent weeks.
Several opposition members, including Zionist Union head Avi Gabbay, have remarked that the government was being too soft in its responses to the rocket attacks, believed to be the work of Salafist terror groups operating in Gaza.
Over the past month, and particularly since US President Donald Trump's announcement in the beginning of December that he would recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, southern Israel has experienced an uptick in rocket fire from the Palestinian enclave. While most of the attacks have resulted in no injuries or damage, on at least three occasions the rockets hit residential areas in southern communities and half a dozen rockets that would have hit built up areas were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.
IDF video outlining activity in the Gaza Strip during the first two weeks of December, 2017. (Credit: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)
Israel's response to the rocket fire has been to target training, storage and operational facilities belonging to Hamas, the organization that holds de-facto rule over Gaza and the party Israel holds responsible for any and all terror activity to come out of the strip.
The latest such response came overnight Monday, when Israeli aircraft targeted a Hamas facility in response to a rocket landing in an unpopulated area on the Israeli side of the border.
The Zionist Union responded to Liberman's accusations with the following statement: "Liberman has yet to understand that he is the defense minister of a lame duck prime minister. If we were whiners like him, we would complain about the comparison to Hamas.
Before joining the government, the hawkish Liberman was one of the biggest critics of Israel's military policy versus Hamas, often calling for the Gaza Strip to be flattened if need be to prevent terror attacks.
Liberman slammed the opposition members of only focusing on politics. "in my current position the words 'life and death' are more than a slogan. My actions are carried out responsibly and levelheadedly," he said in the interview.