Iran military officials say Liberman resignation a defeat for Israel

Tehran gloats as defense minister quits in protest of Netanyahu decision to accept ceasefire with Gaza terror groups, says Islamic Jihad rockets pose a ‘major threat’ to Israel

Maj. Gen. Abdolrahim Mousavi, head of the Iranian Army. (Screen capture)
Maj. Gen. Abdolrahim Mousavi, head of the Iranian Army. (Screen capture)

Iranian military leaders on Thursday welcomed this week’s new ceasefire between Israel and Hamas that brought an end to a major flareup of violence in the Gaza Strip and the subsequent resignation of Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, calling it a military defeat for the Jewish state.

Maj. Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi said at a Tehran military memorial that the hundreds of rockets possessed by Gaza’s Palestinian Islamic Jihad group posed a “major threat” to Israel, according to the semi-official Mehr news agency.

Safavi, who is the senior military adviser to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Liberman’s resignation in protest over the government’s response to the barrage of rockets was a “another sign of the Zionist regime’s defeat.”

Maj. Gen. Seyed Abdolrahim Mousavi, the commander of Iran’s armed forces, said at the ceremony that the hundreds of rockets fired at Israel by Gaza terrorist groups was a “victory” that is in “addition to all the other victories of the Resistance Front against the Zionist regime.”

Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Aerospace Force, praised Gaza terrorist groups for defeating Israel in two days.

“Palestinians forced the Zionist regime into surrender within 48 hours. Now just compare this power with Iran’s defense capabilities,” he said.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman meets with IDF chief Gadi Eisenkot, the head of the Shin Bet security service and other senior defense officials in the army’s Tel Aviv headquarters on November 11, 2018. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

According to Israel, over 460 rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israel on Monday and Tuesday — more than twice the rate at which they were launched during the 2014 war. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted over 100 of them. Most of the rest landed in open fields, but dozens landed inside southern Israeli cities and towns, killing a Palestinian man in Ashkelon, injuring dozens, and causing significant property damage.

In response to the rocket and mortar attacks, the the IDF 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.”

Israel and Hamas have since reached a ceasefire agreement to end the fighting.

The truce prompted Liberman to resign on Wednesday and has drawn criticism from some residents of southern Israel who accuse the government of being soft on Hamas.

After the announcement, Palestinian terror groups hailed Liberman’s departure as an admission of defeat by Israel.

Senior Adviser to Supreme Leader in Military Affairs, Yahya Rahim Safavi at an inaugural ceremony marking the opening of the 4th international general assembly of the Shiite Ahlul-Bayt in Tehran, Iran, on Saturday Aug. 18, 2007. (AP/Hasan Sarbakhshian/File)

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Palestinians had achieved a “political victory” with Liberman’s resignation, that marked “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.

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.

An apartment building in Ashkelon hit by a Hamas rocket, killing one, November 13, 2018. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)

“The resistance succeeded not only in deterring the enemy militarily, but also sowed confusion in their political considerations,” the Iran-backed terror group added.

Liberman officially tendered his resignation on Thursday morning, and was holding his final meetings at the defense headquarters in Tel Aviv. Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party is also quitting Netanyahu’s coalition, leaving the premier with only a two-seat advantage over the opposition in parliament and throwing his government into turmoil.

A Likud official said Wednesday Netanyahu would take charge of Liberman’s portfolio at least temporarily, and said the prime minister had begun consultations with heads of parties in order to stabilize his coalition.

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