Ministers, IDF clash over targeting Gaza youths launching ‘fire kites’

Israeli ministers and the IDF brass clashed on whether or not to target youths behind arson terrorism.

By: World Israel News Staff

Israeli ministers and IDF authorities clashed on Sunday during a discussion on how to respond to Hamas’ arson terrorism, which has ignited over 1,000 fires in Israel’s south in the past three months.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party, reportedly disagreed with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot during a security cabinet meeting about the latest escalation surrounding the Gaza Strip.

The cabinet approved a new policy according to which the IDF will directly attack any cells launching incendiary balloons and kites rather than merely firing warning shots at them, as has been the procedure until now.

Bennett reportedly demanded a more forceful response.

According to a leak from the confidential meeting, when discussing the fact that children are sometimes members of the airborne arson cells, Bennett asked, “Why not shoot anyone who launches aerial weapons at our communities? There is no legal impediment. Why shoot next to them and not directly at them? These are terrorists for all intents and purposes,” Ynet reported.

“I don’t think shooting teens and children—who are sometimes the ones launching the balloons and kites—is right,” Eisenkot responded.

“And what if it’s an adult identified as an adult?” Bennett asked.

“Are you proposing to drop a bomb from a plane on incendiary balloon and kite cells?” Eisenkot asked.

When Bennett responded that he did, the IDF chief said, “I disagree with you. It’s against my operational and moral positions.”

The discussion took place after an extremely violent weekend during which Gaza-based terrorists fired some 200 rockets at Israel and, in response, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) carried out the largest wave of daytime strikes against Hamas terror targets in Gaza since Operation Protective Edge in summer 2014, bombing some 40 terror targets.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman criticized Bennett on Monday, alleging that the minister was attempting to make political gains of the situation.

“A politician who seeks to gain at the expense of the IDF chief is the most disgusting thing,” he told Ynet, without mentioning Bennett by name.

“Trying to gain at the expense of the IDF chief means that this person simply has no red line, and I don’t think it’s even worthy of mention,” he added.

Bennett’s party hit back at Liberman, calling him “weak, confused and transparent. He should focus on eradicating terrorism in the south.”

Liberman also rejected claims by Hamas and Islamic Jihad that Israel has agreed to a ceasefire. “There’s no ceasefire. We sent a very clear message to Hamas on Saturday, and it was a kinetic message, not a verbal one. And I hope they got the message. In any case, the ball is in their court.”

“We tried to exhaust all options to avoid a wide scale conflict in the Gaza Strip,” Liberman explained. “We proposed a humanitarian aid package, and we offered all sorts of economic relief measures—of course in exchange for a resolution on the MIAs and POWs issue, so we can return to a different reality. Hamas rejected all of the proposals. So I believe everyone in Israel understands that if the Gaza Strip continues with the friction on the border fence, with the fires, with all kinds of flying objects—we’ve got no other choice.”