Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip attributed the announced retirement from politics of Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday to his “ignoble defeat” in Operation Pillar of Defense.
“In this move, Barak is acknowledging his resounding defeat in the face of the resistance and its quality strikes which shook Tel Aviv,” claimed Abu-Ahmad, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades, in a press statement. A nearly identical statement was released by Abu-Mujahid, a spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza.
Barak, who has served as defense minister for the last five years, first under the centrist government of Ehud Olmert and currently under Netanyahu’s more hawkish rule, announced Monday that he would not be seeking reelection and would leave his post when the next government is formed, saying that at 70 it was time for him to move on, and that there was “room now” for others.
Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas, told the Palestinian news agency Ma’an that Barak’s imminent departure “proves the failure of the occupation government to achieve any of its goals during Operation Pillar of Defense.”
Palestinian commentators were aware of the fact that most Israelis considered Barak’s decision a result of domestic calculations, but said there must be an underlying reason.
“Even if it may seem like this is the result of internal political considerations, Barak clearly bears the lion’s share of responsibility for the Gaza failures,” political analyst Wissam Afifah told the Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Information Center news agency.
Abdul Sattar Qassem, a political scientist at A-Najjah University in Nablus, told the news agency that Barak had switched parties a number of times in order to remain in Israel’s political center.
“There must be a powerful reason for him to resign and leave political life — namely, his failure in Gaza,” said Qassem.
Gabe Fisher contributed to this report