Israeli government response to Gaza rockets draws ire from angry south

“You don’t have to go on the ground in Gaza, but you need to have [Hamas] leaders afraid to walk down the street,” said the head of the Eshkol Regional Council head following a rocket attack on Beersheba.

By World Israel News and TPS

Eshkol Regional Council head Gadi Yarkoni expressed disappointment Thursday at the lack of significant military response to the rocket fire from Gaza that hit Beersheba just before 4 a.m. the previous day.

The rocket destroyed a family home with four people inside, who narrowly escaped death. The mother saved herself and her three children by fleeing to a fortified room at the sound of the red-alert siren. Shortly after, a 20-kilogram explosive payload hit the house.

“We should have taken advantage of the Beersheba incident to restore deterrence. Unfortunately, this didn’t happen,” Yarkoni told Israel’s Channel 10 news.

“You don’t have to go on the ground in Gaza, but you need to have their leaders afraid to walk down the street,” Yarkoni declared.

Following a five-hour-long emergency security cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem Wednesday night, the Israel Defense Forces lifted all restrictions across the Gaza border communities, which were implemented following the Beersheba incident.

Israel’s senior ministers discussed how to respond to the escalation. But there wasn’t widespread support for action that could potentially drag Israel into a full-scale military confrontation with Hamas.

Lieberman: Hamas means it

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman reportedly favors a forceful response by the IDF.

“They’re always telling us that Hamas didn’t mean [to fire the rocket]. Even in the 1930s, they said Hitler didn’t mean it. In the 1970s they said it about Khomeini and we know how that ended,” said Lieberman, adding that “when Hamas says [they want to destroy Israel], they mean it.”

A source within the cabinet accused the defense minister of warmongering as part of his political rivalry with Jewish Home Party Chairman Naftali Bennett, with whom Lieberman is competing for right-wing votes. “[Lieberman] is demanding that we go ‘all the way’ because he knows the Cabinet will stop him,” he said.

Government ministers have accused Lieberman of purposefully escalating the situation in Gaza, citing a decision by the defense minister to stop all fuel shipments from entering the Gaza Strip, including the newly purchased Qatari-funded fuel, without discussing the move with other ministers or the prime minister.

Opposition offers solution

Opposition Leader Tzipi Livni criticized the government’s decision-making process. Speaking to Israel’s Kan Bet Radio, Livni said that there was a solution to the crisis in the Gaza Strip as early as 2014, during Operation Protective Edge.

“There was a solution which I brought to a vote during Protective Edge, but Netanyahu chose not to adopt it,” she said.

“I drafted a proposal, which Jordan, Egypt, the Americans and other countries were on board with. The U.N. Security Council was about to vote on a decision which sole purpose was to demilitarize the Gaza Strip and rehabilitate it both financially and from a humanitarian standpoint. The objective was that Hamas would not benefit from it, and that the Palestinian Authority would gradually return to power in Gaza.”

“That did not happen,” Livni continued, “I was with Netanyahu in the room, the Americans were waiting for an answer, and Netanyahu said, ‘Why do we need this?’ Well, this is why we need this.”