Hamas on Liberman appointment: ‘Let him come near Gaza’

In dig at Ya’alon, political leader of terror group says it is used to Israeli defense ministers retiring ‘after every war’

Mahmoud al-Zahar speaks at a Hamas rally in Gaza on December 14, 2015. (YouTube screenshot)
Mahmoud al-Zahar speaks at a Hamas rally in Gaza on December 14, 2015. (YouTube screenshot)

Senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar on Friday offered a defiant response to Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman’s likely appointment as the new defense minister, saying that “if Liberman is a man, let him come near Gaza.”

Another hard-line political leader of the terror group — which has ruled Gaza since a 2007 coup ousted the rival Fatah entirely from the coastal enclave — mocked the Israeli ministerial reshuffle with a parting shot at outgoing minister Moshe Ya’alon.

“We are used to the fact that after every war, the Israeli defense ministers resign and retire from political life,” said Fathi Hamad, the Ynet news website reported Friday.

Israel has repeatedly fought the terror group in Gaza over the past eight years, most recently in summer 2014, when the IDF was under Ya’alon’s command.

As defense minister, Liberman would be in control of Israel’s army as well as the civilian administration of the West Bank. The move is part of a deal to bring Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition.

The Palestinian Authority also denounced Liberman’s appointment on Thursday, saying the move showed the Jewish state was not a partner for peace.

In a statement posted on its official Facebook page, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said the appointment “reconfirms the lack of a partner for peace in Israel,” calling it Netanyahu’s response to recent international efforts to kick-start the peace process.

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