Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Housing Minister Yoav Galant traded barbs on Wednesday, after the latter slammed the former’s calls for the use of lethal force against Palestinians launching incendiary devices from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory.
“A lack of experience in the use of force can lead to the intoxication of power. It is a very serious mistake to shoot at an eight-year-old child, certainly in a deliberate manner,” Galant, a member of Kulanu and a former IDF Southern Command chief, told the Ynet news site.
Galant’s comments came hours after some 45 rockets and mortar shells were fired at southern Israel, with at least six exploding inside communities, causing damage but no injuries. The barrages, which were met with Israeli counter-strikes, came in response to a raid by Israeli jets on Hamas positions in response to numerous airborne arson attacks by Gazans earlier in the day.
Bennett responded to Galant via Twitter, saying that the terrorists were not eight years old and that “if someone shoots at your family, you shoot at him… if someone sends burning and exploding balloons, you shoot at him. It is so obvious that I find it hard to believe that I need to explain,” he said. “As I said, restraint leads to escalation.”
Bennett later posted photos to the social media platform of a group of Palestinians involved in the launching of incendiary balloons, captioning the pictures: “They are not eight-year-old children. They are trying to kill our eight-year-old children.”
הם לא ילדים בני 8.
הם מחבלים שמנסים לרצוח את ילדינו בני ה-8.
הבא להורגך, השכם להורגו. pic.twitter.com/DkAQTxJqcc
— Naftali Bennett בנט (@naftalibennett) June 20, 2018
Bennett on Monday had told his Jewish Home party’s Knesset faction meeting that lethal force was necessary to put an end to the ongoing arson attacks from the Gaza Strip.
“The explosive kites and incendiary balloons are not child’s play; they are deadly weapons designed to kill our children,” Bennett said. “They are a murderous weapon of Hamas.”
“Restraint in the face of the fire terror will lead to an escalation because the enemy interprets restraint as though he has a place where he is immune,” he said. “We need to stop shooting next to the target and start shooting at the target.”
Israel has thus far only fired warning shots at Gazans launching kites and balloons, apparently seeking to keep tensions from boiling over, but military officials have faced increasing pressure to put an end to the fires.