Politicians split on possible Gaza operation

Rivlin: Election shouldn't prevent IDF from taking action in Gaza; Knesset to hold special session on escalation in the South.

Tami Shadadi surveys damage to her Sderot house (photo credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)
Tami Shadadi surveys damage to her Sderot house
(photo credit: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)
The upcoming election should not deter the military from a wide-scale operation in Gaza, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said Monday.
“Whoever thinks we forgot how to deal with continuing attrition, whoever thinks that we will allow a quarter of Israel’s population to live under total paralysis is preparing himself for defeat,” Rivlin stated at a ceremony marking 56 years since the Sinai campaign in 1956.
Since the campaign, the Knesset speaker explained, Israel has blossomed and grown stronger, but its enemies still seek its destruction.
“The Sinai campaign was a military reaction to those who dared to challenge the fact of the State of Israel’s existence,” he said.
“Today, not like in those years, our enemies know Israel is a fact, but their desire to erase us from the map remains,” said Rivlin, adding that terrorist organizations in Gaza hope to pull Israel into a “continuing, bloody cycle” and plant fear in the hearts of Israeli citizens.
The Knesset will hold a meeting on Thursday morning to discuss the escalation in the South, following a petition by over 25 MKs from Kadima, Labor and Meretz.
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar called for an attack on Hamas leaders in order to prevent terrorist activity.
“These people are responsible for terror, and we want to stop them from doing it again,” he said. “They will pay for their actions. What is happening today in the South cannot continue.”
“Whoever still believes we are a fictitious country will have to face us over and over again, and the deep commitment of our fighters to defend Israeli citizens,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Labor leader Shelly Yacimovich said that the eve of an election is not the right time for a military operation.
“For action beyond an air attack or hitting a specific target, stability and a national consensus are necessary,” she told Army Radio. “Maybe a [wide-scale] operation is necessary, but not now.”
Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz said that in his experience as a former IDF chief of staff, the best policy to stop Hamas’s terrorism is to target and assassinate the terrorist organization’s leaders. “We achieved great deterrence with the policy of targeted killings,” Mofaz said in an interview with Army Radio.
“Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was strong against [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] but not when it comes to Hamas.”
Newly elected Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett visited Sderot on Monday, telling residents of the town on the border with Gaza that they are “the pioneers of our generation. The swamps of yesterday are the rockets of today in Sderot.”
“The amazing strength shown by residents of the South gives the government oxygen to act,” Bennett said.
“Now the government must do its job and instruct the army to stop the rocket fire on the South immediately.”
Meanwhile, Kadima MK Yoel Hasson said that Netanyahu should be tutored by former prime minister Ehud Olmert, former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni and Mofaz on how to deal with terror.
“Netanyahu, [who] ran in the last election with the slogan ‘Strong against Hamas,’ now shows that his fear is too strong – and the residents of the South are paying the price,” Hasson stated, adding that the prime minister seems to be unable to make the necessary decision in order to stop the rocket fire.