Minister Tzachi Hanegbi.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi was attacked across the political spectrum on Thursday for dismissing Hamas’s rocket attacks on Gaza Strip periphery communities as “minor.”
In an interview on Army Radio on Thursday morning, Hanegbi said “Hamas’s response was minor – there is a difference between Tel Aviv and other communities,” implying that Tel Aviv has a greater importance because it is the economic capital of Israel.
Hamas launched 460 rockets in two days earlier in the week, killing one and injuring several, including an IDF soldier.
“In order to prevent a situation, other alternatives must be examined,” Hanegbi said, referring to the situation in Gaza.
Hanegbi also dismissed the possibility that Minister of Education Naftali Bennett would be appointed as the next Defense Minister.
“I consider myself more suitable for the job than many others,” Hanegbi said.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid rejected Hanegbi’s remarks, “There is no difference between a Nahal Oz resident and Tel Aviv one,” implying that Israel’s southern residents could not be ignored.
“Hanegbi’s remarks are shocking,” MK Shelly Yachimovich said. “And the blood of the residents of one area is no cheaper than the blood of the residents from the center of Israel. And a government that believes this is not worthy of the people’s trust but instead deserves contempt.”
Likud activist Natan Engelsman and Yishai Merling also called for a Hanegbi to amend his statement.
“We call on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ensure Minister Tzachi Hanegbi amends and understands the severity of his words,” the Likud statement said.
“Tzachi Hanegbi, my friend, you were wrong! Your statement was misplaced,” Sports and Culture Minister Miri Regev joined the choir of outbursts against Hanegbi’s dismissal of the South. “As I said this week, when visiting Sderot and the Negev, the law in the Gaza Strip is the law in Tel Aviv. Any rocket fire that endangers the safety and security of the citizens of the State of Israel everywhere must produce a harsh and identical response.”
Head of the Eshkol Regional Council Gadi Yarkoni responded to Hanegbi’s comments as well.
“The morning when the residents of the Gaza perimeter are still licking their wounds and trying to return to a routine after 500 rockets were fired at them in one day, we are forced to hear the insult from a senior Israeli cabinet minister,” Yarkoni said. “I do not remember when Minister Hanegbi visited Eshkol. I do not remember when he met with us or with the residents, and heard them directly. I invite him to come here and listen to the residents.”
“Are there more and less deserving of life?” opposition leader Tzipi Livni said as she also attacked Hanegbi’s remarks.
Livni also commented on the potential appointment of Bennett, saying: “Anyone who publicly supported a soldier who is legally and morally disgraced cannot be a defense minister. He has to support the ethical system that accompanies every soldier on his way to battle.”
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