Eitan: Strong IDF reaction to attacks ‘counterproductive’

Livni slams government’s indecisiveness, calls for further military action against Hamas; coalition MKs blame rockets on disengagement.

Michael Eitan 311 (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Michael Eitan 311
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Government Services Minister Michael Eitan defended the government’s “balanced” response to last week’s terrorist attacks in the South, during an emergency Knesset meeting on Tuesday.
“We could have a much harsher reaction, but that would be counterproductive and bring worse results,” Eitan said. “[Kadima’s] calls for extreme reactions are wrong.
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“Should the government have reacted the way Olmert did to Hezbollah before the Second Lebanon War?” Eitan asked Kadima MKs at the session called to discuss the situation in the South and the nationwide protests.
Despite the fact both topics were on the agenda for the emergency meeting called during the Knesset’s recess, most MKs used the time to present their views on how the government should respond to the recent escalation.
“The government will react – but why so hasty? Why not give things a chance to calm down?” he added. “This is not about a military response. It’s about consequences, which a responsible government must consider.
“We are currently in a relatively calm time, and Hamas is responsible for what happens in Gaza, but if we need to, we will react, and we will not hesitate to paralyze them,” the Likud minister explained.
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima) said at the start of the meeting, which was held in a smaller auditorium while the plenum is being renovated, that the meeting mirrored the government’s actions.
“I’m at an advantage that this auditorium is mostly empty of MKs today, because it just shows the emptiness of this government’s policies,” she said.
“It’s amazing to see all those who called to fight become in the past two or three days incapable of making a decision that will defend the people of Israel who are under attack,” Livni said. “This last round in Gaza has weakened the State of Israel.
“I said that as the opposition leader, I would support any action against Hamas, thinking that such action would take place. A responsible opposition supports the coalition if it does the right thing.”
The opposition leader also explained she will not stop supporting the housing protests, despite the security situation.
“It’s true that some said we need to cancel this meeting, as if the social problems are just for the poets who need to keep their whims quiet when there are security issues. I don’t accept that,” Livni stated.
“We decided to hold this discussion because Israel’s security problems do not justify social injustice. Social issues in Israel are relevant to our strength.
“The million people who are under attack from missiles need to know that even when they are in a shelter and are threatened, we are fighting not only for Israel’s borders, but also for its values,” Livni explained.
Likud MK Miri Regev said “the reality in the South means we must change priorities.
People in the South live in fear, and the state’s first responsibility is to protect its citizens.”
However, she added, “a hungry soldier who thinks about where his parents will find their next meal cannot fight effectively.
If we balance [social and defense issues], we will be stronger.”
MK Shlomo Molla (Kadima) expressed disappointment that Defense Minister Ehud Barak was not at the meeting.
“Did the defense minister know an attack was planned? Were instructions given to stop it? Maybe someone wanted the security situation to heat up, in order to distract from the social situation.”
Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan responded to the opposition’s complaints, calling Livni’s criticisms “superficial and shallow,” and saying “Kadima is trying to be more Likud than the Likudniks.”
“Livni is trying to get us to forget her far-left opinions, posing as a former Likudnik who wants to fight terror,” he said.
He mentioned the cease-fires ending the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead, saying Livni “does not give longterm solutions for peace. She gives shortterm solutions, which carry a high price.”
In the final motion on Tuesday’s agenda, coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), as well as Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz and MK Uri Orbach, both of Habayit Hayehudi, said the rocket attacks are a direct result of the disengagement from Gaza six years ago.
After praising MK Robert Tibayev as the “only righteous man in Sodom” for being the lone Kadima member in the auditorium as the meeting entered its third hour, Elkin blamed the escalation on the Knesset’s largest faction.
“This happened because someone decided to leave the Gaza Strip, and the mortars hitting Jewish towns in Gaza moved on to a different address,” he said.
“Tzipi Livni wants to divide the land of Israel,” Elkin added. “Then, what happened in Gaza would happen in Judea and Samaria, which would turn into Hamastan Two, and rockets would hit Tel Aviv and Hadera and Netanya.”
The coalition chairman said Kadima must “admit its mistakes. The disengagement was a mistake and Israel is still paying for it, to this day. We cannot repeat our mistakes.”
Orbach echoed Elkin’s words.
“Coincidentally, after we left Gaza, Hamas took over. Coincidentally, one of our soldiers was kidnapped in Gaza.
Coincidentally, in Judea and Samaria, where we have towns and IDF soldiers spread out, this doesn’t happen,” he said.
“Maybe it isn’t a coincidence.”