The head of Hamas cheered Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s resignation Wednesday, saying it marked an admission of defeat by Israel following the largest flareup between the Israeli military and Gaza-based terror groups since the 2014 war.
Liberman, who once declared he would kill Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh within 48 hours of becoming defense minister, said his decision to step down came in light of the ceasefire reportedly agreed to on Tuesday between Israel and Palestinian terror groups in Gaza following an unprecedentedly fierce two days of fighting.
“We achieved a political victory with the resignation of the minister of security Avigdor Liberman,” Haniyeh told al-Mayadeen, a Lebanese TV station associated with Hezbollah.
“Liberman’s resignation announcement is an admission of defeat for him and the usurping entity.”
Haniyeh also boasted Hamas that “achieved a military victory against this odious occupier in less than a week,” pointing to an Israeli operation in Gaza on Sunday which apparently went awry, leading to clashes in which an Israeli special operations officer and seven Palestinian terrorists were killed.
“A military victory occurred with the heroic performance of the Palestinian resistance factions who responded to the occupier’s crime and aggression with a response commensurate with its aggression,” he said.
“Resistance is the path to Jerusalem and all of Palestine’s land,” added Haniyeh, whose terror group is committed to Israel’s destruction.
His comments echoed an earlier statement from the Gaza-ruling terror group, which called Liberman’s resignation a “victory for Gaza.”
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the second-largest terrorist organization in the Strip, similarly claimed the defense minister’s sudden departure as a victory.
“Behold the political slaughter dealt to leaders of the occupation who aren’t capable of dealing with Gaza,” the organization’s spokesperson said in a statement.
“The resistance succeeded not only in deterring the enemy militarily, but also sowed confusion in their political considerations,” the Iran-backed terror group added.
Inside Gaza, people handed out candy and other treats in celebration of Liberman’s stepping down.
In his resignation announcement, the defense minister said he was stepping down over the government’s handling of this week’s flareup in Gaza, which saw over 460 rockets and mortar shells fired at southern Israel, according to the army.
The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted over 100 of them. Most of the rest landed in open fields, but dozens landed inside Israeli cities and towns, killing one person, injuring dozens more, and causing significant property damage.
In response to the rocket and mortar attacks, the Israeli military said it targeted approximately 160 sites in the Gaza Strip connected to the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups, including four facilities that the army designated as “key strategic assets.”
On Wednesday, Liberman said that the retaliation was “to put it lightly, drastically lacking.”
The battle — the largest since the 2014 Gaza war — ended on Tuesday evening with an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, which hasn’t been formally recognized by Israeli officials.