Head of Israel Beitenu Party Avigdor Liberman on May 27th, 2019.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Opposition leaders have blasted the latest truce agreement between Israel and Hamas, with Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman in particular taking advantage of the situation to batter the prime minister as being soft on terrorism.
Former IDF chief of staff and senior Blue and White MK Gabi Ashkenazi said that a government led by his party would “hit Hamas where it hurts,” while even coalition MKs such as Bayit Yehudi MK Moti Yogev were critical of the new arrangement.
The truce agreement, reached through the mediation of Egypt and the UN and which was supposed to take effect Friday morning, saw Israel agree to expand the Gaza fishing zone and allow resumption of fuel deliveries to Gaza’s power station, in return for a halt to incendiary-device attacks and violence by Hamas at the Gaza border.
Violence at the border nevertheless continued on Friday, and at least 14 fires were started in Israel by incendiary devices sent from the coastal territory.
Liberman described the latest arrangement as “a capitulation agreement,” and said the government’s failure to deal comprehensively with the ongoing incendiary balloon attacks and other violence emanating from the Gaza Strip is a strategic threat to the entire country.
“We have seen the same incendiary balloons again, and the same suffering for the residents of the Gaza border region, which has gone from becoming a national priority area to a national area of denial,” said Liberman on KAN radio Sunday morning, although he did not explain what he would do differently to stop the attacks.
The Yisrael Beytenu leader, who has gone strongly on the offensive ever since new elections were called, said the government’s reluctance to act more decisively was “doing damage to morale and deterrence,” and also condemned Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for failing to speak with Gaza border residents and for failing to publicly announce or talk about the new truce agreement.
Liberman went on to say that the new agreement allowed Hamas to continue building its military power in Gaza and gave political succor to Hamas, not just in Gaza but also in the West Bank.
“Hamas has convinced the Palestinians that the way to speak to the State of Israel is through violence,” he declared.
MK and former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi also panned the government’s approach to Gaza.
“We will not hit empty homes and unmanned positions. We will hit Hamas where it hurts. You cannot answer fire-balloons with cash,” tweeted Ashkenazi in reference to the cash payments from Qatar the government has allowed into Gaza for the Hamas-run government.
“Netanyahu has abandoned the residents of the Gaza border region and now he is ignoring them,” he said on Friday, and dared the prime minister to meet with residents in the area and explain his policy to them.
New education minister and Bayit Yehudi leader Rabbi Rafi Peretz, who lives in the Naveh Moshav close to Gaza, said the new truce needed to bring “total quiet” for southern residents and that until such time, he as a southern resident was “a captive” to the situation.
Yogev, of Peretz’s Bayit Yehudi Party – which is part of the temporary government – was less timid in his criticism, saying that Israel “needs to be more aggressive toward Hamas.”
“This cannot end with a round of strikes against some infrastructure site or other; it needs to begin with a strike on the terror heads, Hamas or Islamic Jihad, in order to show that we do not tolerate any form of terrorism,” Yogev told Army Radio.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>