MKs call for military response to attack

knesset in rain 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
knesset in rain 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
As news of the attack on the outpost near the Kerem Shalom crossing spread throughout the Knesset Sunday, MKs united in a rare near-consensus for a strong military response. While they may agree on little else, MKs from across the political spectrum concurred that Sunday's violence could not go unanswered and urged for various degrees of responses. The most extreme reaction came from the religious parties and Israel Beiteinu's leader MK Avigdor Lieberman. Both MK Eli Gabai (National Union-National Religious Party) and Lieberman called for the resignation of Defense Minister Amir Peretz in light of the attacks. "When the State of Israel has a defense minister who falls asleep at his post, who is attentive to the wailing of the Left while he abandons the residents of Sderot, it is no surprise that the initiative goes over to the terrorists," Gabbai said. "Complacency, routine, restraint, and lack of retaliation are a sure recipe for failure. The IDF must initiate, attack, and win." Lieberman, meanwhile, said he had urged Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to ask for Peretz's resignation. Peretz' s policy had eroded what was left of Israel's deterrence ability, charged Lieberman, who added that his policy would be to attack Hamas officials, including Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima) also had strong words for the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government. "From this moment forward every Palestinian must know that war is waged like war. The blood of any Palestinian is the responsibility of the terrorist government standing at their head," said Schneller. "The Hamas government today ended its legitimate and moral term of office, with the knowledge that the calculated restraint of the government of Israel and the IDF has come to an end today." The Likud faction also released a statement to call on the government to "stop hesitating" and take harsh steps against Palestinian militants. While Labor MKs remained largely silent, those who did issue public statements said that they supported Peretz's decision and trusted in the IDF to take appropriate action. The only Knesset member to publicly call for a restrained military response was Meretz Chairman Yossi Beilin, who warned that the military should not begin "a new cycle of violence, which harms Israel's national interest." "The Israeli government should ask Mahmoud Abbas to make an exceptional effort to release the kidnapped soldier from the captivity of terror groups, and to replace Hamas with an emergency government, if the soldier is not released immediately," Beilin said. Right-wing MKs, meanwhile, pointed to the disengagement as the root of Sunday's violence. "Once again, we are getting a painful reminder that terrorism cannot be fought by remote control," said MK Uri Ariel (NU-NRP). "Our flight from the [Gaza] strip caused the terror to chase us everywhere, in the form of Kassams and terrorist cells."