Mofaz: Hamas won upper hand, truce a mistake

Right wing politicians slam truce, Left commends PM.

Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem / The Jerusalem Post)
Politicians to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Right and Left spoke out against Wednesday night’s cease-fire, with only Labor, Meretz and others on the Left supporting it.
“The goals of his operation were not reached, and the next round is only a matter of time,” Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz said. “We should not have stopped at this stage. Hamas got stronger and we did not gain deterrence.”
Mofaz referred to his experience as an IDF chief of staff and leading Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, saying it is possible to defeat terrorism.
“The army knows how to do its work, and we could have won this time. A cease-fire at this point is a mistake; this is not how a war against terror ends. Hamas has the upper hand,” he stated.
Kadima MK Ronit Tirosh accused Netanyahu of cynically using the residents of the South and making the equation “the higher the number of victims, the higher the number of Knesset seats.”
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid criticized Netanyahu for “failing to achieve the goals” that the government had set for itself in the cease-fire announcement.
“While the IDF showed impressive capabilities and the Israeli home front displayed strength, the government showed weakness and hesitation in reaching its objectives and promising quiet to the residents of Israel,” Lapid said.
He added that Netanyahu had said he would not speak with Hamas, but then changed direction and negotiated with them. Lapid also called for the immediate compensation of those living in the South who suffered from rocket attacks.
Newly elected Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett vowed to return to the fight against Hamas.
“Despite the heavy disappointment of tens of thousands of reservists and millions of residents that sat in shelters, we will beat Hamas and remove the threat of missiles,” Bennett said. “If it doesn’t happen now, it will happen in the coming months.”
National Union MKs Michael Ben-Ari and Arieh Eldad, who will run in the next election as the leaders of the newly created Strong Israel party, called the cease-fire a “white flag and a surrender to terror.”
“Instead of letting the IDF smash [Hamas], the government left this operation with its tail between its legs and having not reaching any of its objectives,” they stated. “Even the Right thinks Netanyahu must go home.”
Baruch Marzel, Hebron activist and the third candidate on Strong Israel’s Knesset list, said on Wednesday that he led dozens of people in a demonstration against the cease-fire in Kiryat Malachi.
National Union leader-elect Uri Ariel called Netanyahu’s press conference with Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman “a sad performance meant to give an excuse for the embarrassing surrender.”
“Residents of Israel feel they have been betrayed, and they know they will painfully pay for the government’s hesitation,” Ariel said.
As Hamas continued launching rockets into Israel after the cease-fire began at 9 p.m., MK Danny Danon (Likud) said that if the terrorist group even throws a rock into Israel, there must be “a disproportionate reaction that will wipe out Hamas, its command, its soldiers and its missiles, even if the whole world is against us.”
Danon called to cut off electricity to Gaza every time a missile is launched toward Israel.
Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich said the cease-fire must be given a chance, expressing hope that the objectives presented at the beginning of the operation – stopping rocket fire at the South, bringing back deterrence and harming Hamas – were achieved.
Yacimovich also pointed to the important role the US played as a mediator, and that Egypt proved to be a necessary partner in regional stability.
“This operation proved how strong our society is, and the economic security of citizens and entire towns is necessary for our power in matters of defense,” she added. “Now we must roll up our sleeves and do what it takes to fix Israeli society.”
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On commended Netanyahu for his judgment in not getting “dragged by reckless criticism by coalition and opposition members pushing for the government to continue military action.”
“For the price of NIS 3 billion, the government adopted what I suggested on the first day as a solution to the escalation: international mediation to stop the fighting,” she added.
Similarly, MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) said that the cease-fire could have been reached before going to “the war for the ballot box,” calling the military operation “unnecessary and foolhardy.”Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.