Netanyahu hails success of ‘international achievement’ but not everyone agrees

The premier hails his government’s security credentials amid calls in the coalition for a tougher approach.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday hailed his government’s efforts to combat Palestinian terrorism, describing them as an “international achievement.”

“I commend the security forces for eliminating the terrorists who carried out the shooting attack at Avnei Hefetz only a few days ago, after eliminating the terrorists who murdered Lucy, Maya and Rina Dee, may their memories be for a blessing,” said Netanyahu at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

Israeli forces on Saturday killed two terrorists who were involved in a shooting near the town of Avnei Hefetz in Samaria on May 2. Two days earlier, Israeli forces killed the Palestinian terrorists who last month murdered three members of the Dee family.

“Since the start of the year, we have thwarted and arrested over 110 terrorists, a record number,” Netanyahu continued. “These counterterrorist actions entail complex operations, including entering the hearts of cities, while minimizing casualties among our forces and noncombatants—and indeed, 90% of casualties on the Palestinian side are terrorists.

“I would like to emphasize to the members of the government: This is an international achievement,” said the premier, adding, “It is doubtful if any other military and security forces would be capable of achieving the same result in combat areas that are saturated with civilians, but our forces are doing so, and they truly deserve all praise and respect.

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“Every terrorist knows that he will pay a price. The long arm of Israel will find anyone who tries to harm our citizens,” Netanyahu said.

National Security Minister Itamar-Ben-Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit Party boycotted the Cabinet meeting over what he described as recent “unacceptable” decisions.

Ben-Gvir on Friday slammed the move to hand over the bodies of three terrorists to the Palestinian Authority and vowed to continue boycotting Knesset votes until the governing coalition takes a more hardline approach.

He described Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s decision to return the three bodies as “a grave mistake that will cost us dearly.

“It is not too late to implement a powerful and offensive security policy. Otzma Yehudit will continue to be absent from [Knesset] votes until the Israeli government changes course and begins to uphold the policy for which it was elected,” said Ben-Gvir.

A senior source close to Netanyahu shortly thereafter told the media that the premier is willing to explore bringing National Unity Party head Benny Gantz into the coalition.

Last week’s rocket barrage from the Gaza Strip sparked the intra-coalition fighting, with Ben-Gvir announcing that his party’s six MKs would boycott coalition votes after he wasn’t invited to a situational assessment meeting during the conflagration.

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