Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman speaking with IDF officers during a special Gaza evaluation meeting .
(photo credit: DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Israel’s policy toward Gaza is allowing Hamas to become like Hezbollah in Lebanon, Avigdor Liberman said on Friday, his last official day as defense minister.
“We are currently feeding a monster, which, if we don’t stop its rearmament and force-building, in a year we will get a twin to Hezbollah – with all that entails,” he said following a farewell meeting with senior IDF officers and soldiers in the Gaza Division as well as civilian security officials from the communities around the Gaza Strip.
Liberman accused the government of “giving immunity” to Hamas leaders by signing a ceasefire with the group after close to 500 mortars and rockets were fired into southern Israel during the latest escalation of violence last week.
“It simply makes no sense that after Hamas launches some 500 rockets at Israeli communities outside Gaza, at the south of the country, the heads of Hamas effectively get immunity from the Israeli security cabinet,” he said.
According to Liberman, the financial aid from Qatar that Israel allowed to be transferred to the group “is purely $15 million of terrorism-funding.”
“Everyone who says that there is a list, that there is a monitoring and control mechanism, it’s a sham. As soon as the money crosses the border with the Strip, there is no oversight of it,” he said, adding that the first recipients of the financial aid are the families of the 230 Palestinians killed by Israel during the violent border fence protests, instead of payments to civil servants.
Liberman said that it was impossible to reach an agreement with Hamas from the beginning, and that the IDF should have hit Hamas in July, less than six months after the protests began.
“From March 30, when Hamas began institutionalized violence, it was impossible to reach any arrangement and we had to act much earlier in a much more determined manner,” he said.
“It’s no secret," Liberman said. "I thought immediately when the matriculation exams were over in July that we had to give the hardest blow. But we did not do it... I see no other definition but that it is a surrender to terrorism.”
The violent riots along the Gaza security fence, which began in March, has led to – according to Palestinian Health Ministry numbers – more than 220 Palestinians being killed and fears of another military operation against Hamas to restore the quiet seen in the four years since the end of 2014’s Operation Protective Edge.
Liberman resigned from his post as defense minister on Wednesday following the deeply unpopular ceasefire was agreed to by Israel’s cabinet, saying that Israel “capitulated to terrorism” by agreeing to the ceasefire and charging that by negotiating with Hamas, Israel was “buying short-term quiet, with the price being severe long-term damage to national security.”
“For the past two and a half years I have bit my tongue. I tried to change things from the inside, but the last two decisions — on the transfer of $90 million to Hamas
over the next six months and the decision on the ceasefire — these two decisions were too much,” he said Friday.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>