After Hamas renewed its rocket fire on Israel and talks in Cairo over a framework for a ceasefire were put on hold, Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Wednesday that Israel must avoid being dragged by Hamas into a “war of attrition” in the Gaza Strip. In a Facebook post, he called on Israel to overwhelm Hamas.
Liberman said the latest ceasefire framework, which didn’t lay the groundwork for a peace deal and included no guarantees for “an unequivocal commitment by the Palestinians to keep the peace now and for all eternity,” set up Israel for a disadvantageous “war of attrition.”
Liberman criticized his own government for playing into Hamas’s hands by allowing it to set the pace of the clashes.
“I hope everyone has realized by now that the policy of ‘quiet met with quiet’ means that Hamas is the instigating party and the one to decide when, where, and how much it fires on the people of Israel, while we content ourselves only with retaliation — which, strong though it may be, is still just a reaction.”
He said Hamas not only controlled the severity of the clashes, but also the “timing that is most convenient for it to disrupt the lives of Israeli civilians in general and residents of southern Israel in particular.”
He warned, “It happened yesterday, it’s happening today and it could happen again on September 1 [when school starts] and on the eve of Rosh Hashanah,” the Jewish New Year.
Denouncing Israeli politicians who have proposed unilateral moves to end the violence as “suffering from absentmindedness,” Liberman noted that Israel was “still paying to this day” the price for its unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005.
“Even if, God forbid, [Meretz party leader] Zahava Gal-on was serving as prime minister and [Hadash party MK] Dov Khenin as defense minister — even they would have eventually ordered an expansive operation to topple the rule of Hamas,” said Liberman.
“That’s why, when the security of Israeli civilians is seriously discussed, it must be understood that there is no option other than a determined Israeli move with one purpose — defeating Hamas.”
However, Gal-on was quick to respond to Liberman’s claim, saying that if she were prime minister, she would “know for certain what I would do” — send the foreign minister home after Israel’s month-long operation in the Gaza Strip failed to restore the quiet to Israel’s south.
“If I am not miscounting, this is the 3,452nd time that Liberman has proposed to subdue, overwhelm, trample, crush, and conquer Gaza, not just during Operation Protective Edge, but in the last five years,” Gal-on said.
“I don’t know if Liberman is serious about his childish proposal,” she remarked. “Usually, he announces it in front of television cameras or on his Facebook page, but it is said that during cabinet meetings, when decisions have to be made, he is less ‘courageous.’”
She added, “If the foreign minister continues to babble about ‘subduing’ and ‘deterring’ after 64 dead soldiers, 2,000 dead Palestinians and the fact that residents of the south are under fire once again after an operation that changed nothing, I know for certain what I would do if I were prime minister — I would send him home.”