Avigdor Liberman speaks in Knesset, October 22, 2018.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israel has reached a breaking point regarding the situation in Gaza, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said on Monday, and “anything less than the toughest response won’t help anymore. We have exhausted the other options.”
Speaking to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, the defense minister said, “Wars are only conducted when there is no choice, and now there is no choice.”
Liberman slammed Hamas, saying the terrorist organization was behind recent violence from the Gaza Strip, and pays large sums to protesters.
“There is no popular uprising,” Liberman said. “There is violence organized by Hamas. Fifteen thousand people don’t come by foot to the border at their own will. They come by bus and are paid.”
Liberman said Hamas “controls the levels of the flames,” but Israel can take steps to maintain its deterrence.
“I don’t believe in reaching an arrangement with Hamas,” he said. “It hasn’t worked, doesn’t work and won’t work in the future.”
The security cabinet met on Wednesday night to consider possible reactions
to the rocket attack from the Gaza Strip that hit a house in Beersheba earlier that day. Its decision was not publicized, so Liberman’s statement could be the first indication of possible steps ahead by the IDF.
Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avi Dichter (Likud) accused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of inflaming tensions in the Gaza Strip by preventing supplies and funding from reaching the people there.
“It is intolerable, unacceptable and unreasonable that Abbas closes the faucet for Gaza and Israel has to pay the price,” Dichter said.
Meanwhile, the mutual recriminations between Liberman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett continued to escalate on Monday, when Liberman accused Bennett of trying to make political capital out of the Khan al-Ahmar issue.
The security cabinet voted on Sunday to indefinitely delay the forced evacuation of the illegally built West Bank Bedouin herding village. While Liberman initially opposed the delay, he ultimately voted for it, while Bennett voted against it.
“Bennett had no idea about the evacuation of Khan al-Ahmar until Saturday night,” Liberman told his Yisrael Beytenu faction. “He didn’t help or deal with the issue. He just decided to hitchhike on it, like always. Bennett is excellent at one thing. He uses every security incident for his own political purposes.”
Liberman added that he did not think Bennett even knew where Khan al-Ahmar is.
The Bayit Yehudi leader responded that he knows where it is from his time serving in an elite IDF unit, adding: “It was when we had a rightwing defense minister who kept his word.”
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