Liberman: Government ‘burying head in the sand’ on Gaza

As Hamas builds border road it says will help fight Israel, former FM says Netanyahu ‘insists on remaining deaf’ to terror group’s threats

Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman accused the Israeli government on Saturday of “burying its head in the sand” after news came out that Hamas is building a new road near the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip, which it says it will use to attack Israel in the future.

Liberman, in a post to his Facebook page, said Hamas’s statements were “akin to a shout on a megaphone to the prime minister, who insists on remaining deaf.”

The former foreign minister said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon would be held responsible for any disaster Hamas’s preparations might bring about.

In recent days, heavy construction equipment has been operating on the Palestinian side of the border in the northern Strip, several hundred meters from the security fence. Construction work is taking place across from the Israeli community of Nahal Oz.

Former Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hammad said Saturday the road was intended “to create for ourselves convenient opportunities to attack the Zionist enemy.”

An IDF vehicle in Absan, near the border between Israel and east of the town of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, March 30, 2015 (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
An IDF vehicle in Absan, near the border between Israel and east of the town of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, March 30, 2015 (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Israel security officials told the Ynet News website they were monitoring the road’s construction and that it did not seem to pose a security threat at this point.

But Liberman was unconvinced.

“If God forbid a catastrophe occurs in Nahal Oz, the future inquiry committee will not need to open any secret protocols, but simply to read these statements by Hammas, which were made publicly and openly,” he said.

Liberman called on the premier to “get himself together and do what needs to be done to eradicate Hamas’s rule in Gaza” before it would be too late.

The former minister, now a member of the opposition, has been highly vocal in his criticism of the government’s handling of last year’s war with Hamas in the coastal enclave. Liberman has often said Israel should have conquered Gaza and toppled Hamas. He was opposed to the ceasefire with the terror organization which ended the fighting, and panned the conduct of Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon during the campaign.

Ya’alon on Wednesday warned Hamas to rein in any attempts by Gaza terror groups to attack Israel, or “pay a heavy price,” after a rocket launched from Gaza hit near the town of Gan Yavne, outside Ashdod.

Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh. (photo credit: AP/Hatem Moussa)
Former Hamas prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh. (photo credit: AP/Hatem Moussa)

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh dismissed the threat, asserting that an escalation of violence would ultimately hurt the Jewish state more than the residents of the Palestinian enclave.

“The enemy’s threats do not scare the Gaza Strip and do not scare the children of Gaza,” Haniyeh said. “Gaza is able to build deterrence. A million people (across the border) panicked over one rocket. I believe they live under terror, rather than (the people of) Gaza.”

Israeli Air Force jets responded to Wednesday’s attack by bombing four terror targets in Gaza. The army said the rocket was fired by Islamic Jihad activists due to an internal dispute in the organization.

The projectile — a Grad missile — was located shortly after sirens sounded in the Lachish region and Ashdod.

“Israel has no intention of ignoring attacks on its citizens,” Ya’alon said in a statement. “We will not abide any threat on the residents of the south. If it isn’t quiet in Israel, the Gaza Strip will pay a heavy price.”

There were no reports of casualties from the Israeli bombardments on the Palestinian coastal enclave.

AFP contributed to this report.

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