kassam zikim 298.88.
(photo credit: AP)
The Zikim attack widened the gap between right- and left-wing Knesset members, who have become increasingly polarized over how Israel should handle the new Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip.
While MKs from the right-wing parties - Israel Beiteinu, Likud, Shas and the National Union-National Religious Party - demanded harsh military action in the Gaza Strip, Labor and Meretz called for patience and said the government should not abandon the diplomatic process. Kadima's leadership also shied away from a military response, with Vice Premier Haim Ramon calling for Israel to cut off electricity and other supplies to Gaza.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said, during a meeting with her French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner: "We need to use other means, not only military ones, in the Gaza Strip. But we need to say the truth, that other means will not stop the Kassams."
Meanwhile, during his meeting with Kouchner, opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu called for a decisive military operation in the Strip. "If the government ultimately decides to order such an action, even though it is late in the game, it will receive our full backing."
Earlier in the day, Shas chairman Eli Yishai said Israel had no choice but to respond with force. "The Kassam rockets are a result of the disengagement and there is no choice but to act. The red line has been crossed," Yishai said.
NU-NRP MKs were also quick to draw a link between Israel's unilateral pullout from Gaza in 2005 and the subsequent Hamas takeover there.
If we don't carry out a second Operation Defensive Shield today, the threat will be much greater tomorrow," said Uri Ariel.
His colleague, Arye Eldad, added that Israel must resettle the Gaza Strip to prevent Hamas getting even stronger.