Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday, June 22, 2014..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was whisked away when a Color Red siren went off as he finished briefing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Operation Protective Edge Thursday.
The dozen lawmakers ran to the nearest bomb shelter, while Netanyahu went to a separate safe room.
Netanyahu told the MKs that Operation Protective Edge against Hamas will be limited, but he is not currently negotiating a cease-fire, according to a source in the classified briefing.
The prime minister did not give a time frame for the operation in Gaza, but said there is much to be done, the source said.
The goal of the operation is to stop the rocket fire and deter Hamas, and a ground incursion is an option, Netanyahu said.
When Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) proposed cutting off water and electricity to Gaza, Netanyahu said that his legal advisers would not allow it.
Netanyahu said that Israel cannot allow itself to take steps against Hamas terrorists that escalate the conflict as is done in other countries, as in the Russian-Chechen conflict, for example, because Israel would face consequences in the international community that other countries do not.
“Civilians who were killed [in Gaza] were being used as human shields,” Elkin told Army Radio following the briefing.
“We try to explain that to the world, but I can’t say the world judges us fairly.”
The committee approved the government’s request to call up army reservists and declare a “special situation” in the home front within 40 km. of Gaza through Tuesday. The conditions will be extended when the Finance Ministry budgets funds to help businesses and employees hurt by the security situation.
After the briefing, the committee headed to Sderot to visit and support residents of the rocket-plagued town.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) also visited the South, spending Wednesday night in a kibbutz near the Gaza Strip, where he also watched the World Cup semifinal with locals.
On Thursday, after speaking to residents of towns under heavy rocket fire, Herzog called for the government to publicize detailed explanations of who can miss work because of the security situation and what kind of compensation small businesses will receive.
“I hope things will be calm here soon,” Herzog wrote on Facebook.
Later, in a speech to the Council for Peace and Security, Herzog called for renewed negotiations with the PLO.
“I am not giving up on the dream of making peace and separating [from the Palestinians] for the future of our country,” he said. “I’m not sure the American president is prepared to [mediate] again. At this point, the sides can negotiate without the Americans.”
Herzog said an agreement must include arrangements for Gaza, which cannot be a second Palestinian state, but should be one country with the West Bank.
Yesh Atid MKs Dov Lipman and Boaz Toporovsky visited soldiers operating an Iron Dome anti-missile battery in Ashdod.
“Thanks to your hard work, we feel safe throughout Israel,” Lipman told the soldiers. “The fact that many of you have been here for weeks without going home demonstrates your commitment to the state and to protecting the people of Israel.
We hope you understand how much you are appreciated throughout the country.”
Lipman sent letters to members of the US Congress, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Florida), describing life under the threat of rocket fire.
Lipman wrote of visiting the site where a rocket struck across the street from a wedding hall filled with people.
“Had the rocket landed a mere 200 meters in that direction, it would have been a tragedy of enormous proportions,” he wrote.
He asked the congressmen to make sure no international pressure is put on Israel to cease the current military campaign until its goals are met.