Israel’s prime minister faces wave of criticism following ceasefire

The prime minister came under fire after Israel agreed to a truce with the terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. 

By David Isaac, World Israel News

After four Israelis were killed, 145 wounded and thousands sent scurrying to bomb shelters and stairwells as air raid sirens shrieked across the south, the abrupt ceasefire with Gaza’s terror groups has left Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu open to criticism from politicians in the opposition, his own party and among his coalition partners.

Opposition leader and head of the Blue and White party, Benny Gantz, tweeted on Monday morning: “Almost 700 [rocket] launches into Israeli territory, many wounded and injured, and 4 killed – all a result of the loss of deterrence – ends in another surrender to the blackmail of Hamas and the terrorist organizations. All that the government did, once again, is to lay the next battle on our doorstep.”

Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz (Flash90)

Still harsher was the tweet from Blue and White co-leader Yair Lapid, who wrote: “Netanyahu has used the residents of the south as a flak jacket on the way to total surrender to Hamas, and Netanyahu won’t solve the problem in Gaza. He does not have the operational and political courage to do so.  and he does not have the courage to do so. The minimum he should do is explain to the citizens of Israel the situation, but even that he doesn’t have the courage to do.”

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Moshe Ya’alon, another co-leader of Blue and White, and like Gantz a former IDF chief of staff, tweeted that Netanyahu “buys temporary peace only for his political survival.”

MK Tzvi Hauser, also of Blue and White, who once served as a media adviser to Mr. Netanyahu, said “The government should have drawn a red line for Hamas in the current round. To my great sorrow, it preferred just to deal with the issue. Against Hamas, the weak force in the Middle East, we are stuttering. This directly broadcasts weakness regarding Israel’s deterrence against the real great challenge before us, thousands of rockets of Hezbollah in the north. ”

But criticism also came from Prime Minister Netanyahu’s own camp, most notably Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar. He slammed the ceasefire on Monday, saying that Israel didn’t achieve any of its goals in the truce.

“The ceasefire, in the circumstances it was reached under, has no gains for Israel,” Sa’ar said. “The time between each round of violent attacks against Israel and its citizens is shrinking, and terror organizations in Gaza are strengthening. The fighting hasn’t ended, it’s just been pushed off.”

MK Sa’ar, who was attacked by PM Netanyahu prior to the elections for an alleged coup to replace him, was criticized by other Likud members for his comments. Sa’ar rejected his critics, saying he will continue to express his views on matters central to the state.

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National Union chairman MK Bezalel Smotrich, whose party coalesced to form the Union of Right-Wing Parties, and is in talks to join the Likud’s governing coalition, similarly slammed the ceasefire.

“The battle with Gaza needed to end with seven hundred terrorists killed – one for every rocket fired at Israel, with heavy physical damage to Hamas, the kind that will take years for them to recover from so that it will be difficult for them to think of attacking again,” he said.

In an interview with Israel’s Kan radio on Monday, MK Smotrich argued for retaking the Gaza Strip, which Israel abandoned in 2005, in order to ensure the security of Israeli citizens.

PM Netanyahu, perhaps in response to his critics, said that the battle was not yet over on Monday.

He also expressed satisfaction with the results of the IDF strikes.

“Over the last two days we struck Hamas and Islamic Jihad with great force,” he said. “We hit over 350 targets. We struck at terrorist leaders and operatives and we destroyed terrorist buildings.”