Thursday, October 18, 2018

As tensions rise, MKs demand deterrence in Gaza be restored - Israel Hayom Staff

by Israel Hayom Staff

MKs blast defense minister over "empty threats" against Hamas.

Likud MK Anat Berko
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin 

Israeli lawmakers on Wednesday called for a forceful ‎military response to the latest escalation in southern Israel, saying ‎that deterrence against Hamas must be restored. ‎

Israeli fighter jets struck 20 Hamas positions in ‎the ‎Gaza Strip on Wednesday morning after a Grad rocket ‎fired from Gaza hit a house in Beersheba, some ‎‎40 kilometers (25 miles) from the ‎coastal enclave, ‎causing extensive damage to the building.‎

Six people, including a woman and her three ‎children, managed to escape the attack with only minor ‎injuries, as they were able to reach shelters within the 60-second alert ‎time. ‎A defense official later said that the 20-kilogram ‎‎(44-pound) rocket may have condemned the building. ‎

The second rocket landed in the ocean, off the coast ‎‎‎of a major central Israeli city, the IDF said.‎

Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee ‎member Moti Yogev (Habayit Hayehudi) said ‎Israel has no interest in going to war, but "we are ‎responsible for the lives of our citizens and ‎soldiers and for national security." ‎

‎"It is time to mount a forceful response," he said. "Those who ‎shy away from deterring terrorism now, after a ‎rocket hit a home in Beersheba, would be guilty if ‎more missiles strike and, heaven forbid, ‎result in casualties. For the sake of Israel's ‎security, Hamas leaders must be targeted."‎

Fellow committee member MK Omer Bar-Lev (Zionist ‎Union) criticized the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet, ‎saying, "We are being dragged into a war we do not ‎desire over the incompetence of a cabinet whose ‎members are too busy squabbling in the media instead ‎of taking action.‎

‎"We should never have allowed the situation [in ‎Gaza] to get to the point where a home in Beersheba ‎has been all but destroyed. One incident like this ‎can spark a conflagration on the ground. The cabinet ‎is aimless, it lacks initiative, and Israel's ‎deterrence is eroding to nothing while it [the ‎government] plays into Hamas' hands." ‎

Likud MK Anat Berko, who also serves on the ‎‎committee, said, "A red line was crossed ‎‎today. Egypt's efforts to broker a cease-fire have ‎‎been dragging on for too long. Any gesture given to ‎‎Gaza will only cause Hamas to become more brazen. ‎‎It's time we see buildings in Gaza blow up."‎ ‎

Former Defense Minister Amir Peretz (Zionist Union) ‎said, "You can't do the same thing over and over ‎again and expect different results. It is time for the ‎political and military echelons to make unequivocal ‎decisions and to make it clear to Hamas that it ‎bears responsibility for every attack that emanates ‎from Gaza.‎

‎"They [Hamas] must be made to understand that they ‎are playing a dangerous game that won’t end well for ‎them."

Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay slammed what the government's "impotence."

"We've had ‎enough of a government that bolsters Hamas. ‎We've ‎had enough of a government‎ that allows Hamas to harm ‎and disrupt the lives of the south's residents. ‎We've had enough of [Prime Minister Benjamin] ‎Netanyahu's security failures and [Defense Minister ‎Avigdor] Lieberman's empty slogans. We've had enough ‎of a cabinet that mixes politics with national ‎security," ‎he said.

Zionist Union MK Yoel Hasson said that "we need to ‎topple Hamas, not contain it." ‎

Meretz MK Issawi Frej also criticized the cabinet, ‎saying its members were "busy with ego wars instead ‎of pursuing moves that could prevent an actual, ‎painful war."‎

Defense minister under fire 

Cabinet ministers harshly criticized ‎Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday, calling his ‎statement demanding a harsh military response ‎against Hamas "nothing but empty threats."‎

As tensions on the border continued to rise, ‎Lieberman visited the Gaza Division Tuesday and ‎called on the "entire cabinet" to reach a decision ‎on launching a military campaign in Gaza. ‎

The escalating violence has dictated "the direction ‎we must take in terms of security. We have exhausted ‎all other options and everyone understands that this ‎situation cannot continue. … Israel needs to deal ‎Hamas a heavy blow," he said.‎

The statement met with ridicule. One cabinet ‎minister said, "Lieberman, who wants to deal ‎Hamas a 'heavy blow' has never presented the ‎cabinet with a concrete plan for with a military ‎campaign or toppling Hamas rule."‎

Another minister said Lieberman's statements were ‎meant to pander to his constituents "and nothing ‎more."‎

Lieberman's office released a statement saying, ‎‎"Cabinet members are familiar with the plans [for a ‎military campaign in Gaza] and the defense minister ‎has no intention of engaging in this conversation in ‎the media."‎

The statement said that after the recent escalation ‎in border riots and arson terrorism, "It is time to ‎make a decision, not focus on politics."‎

Diplomatic-Security Cabinet members agree that Hamas ‎cannot be allowed to get away with its growing ‎aggression, but there is no consensus ‎on whether a military campaign is the answer. ‎

Political officials familiar with the issue told ‎Israel Hayom that the chances of a ‎military campaign achieving the desired operational ‎results of eliminating Hamas' offensive capabilities ‎are low. ‎

They said that unlike Hamas' rocket-launching ‎abilities, which were crippled in Operation ‎Protective Edge in 2014, the launching of incendiary ‎balloons and kites cannot actually be stopped unless ‎Hamas gives an order to that effect.‎

A military offensive would also do little to ‎quell border riots, which would probably resume ‎as soon as any Israeli offensive came to an end. ‎

However, the more hawkish cabinet ministers argue ‎that a large military campaign is the only ‎thing that could generate enough deterrence to make ‎Hamas curb the border riots and arson terrorism.‎

Israel and Hamas have fought three wars over the ‎past decade, in 2008, 2012, and 2014.‎

Israel Hayom Staff


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