Israel’s Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked have called for the bombardment of the Gaza Strip to be intensified after a night of heavy air strikes on the territory.
The duo – who co-lead the New Right (Hayemin Hehadash) party after breaking away from the Jewish Home party in December – have long called for Israel to up its attacks on the besieged enclave.
Speaking at a meeting of residents in Kibbutz Alumim, an Israeli community located near the nominal border fence, Bennett appeared to advocate the bombing of civilians and targeted assassinations when he said,
“Bombing an empty building and then feeling good, as if this is what is deterring Hamas, is nonsense, it does not work.”
Bennett, aren't you still technically the Education Minister? It's shame to our country that instead of working to educate young Israelis on the 40th anniversary of our historic peace with Egypt, you pretend to be Defense Minister. https://t.co/5qxG7NbJym via @timesofisrael
— Peace Now (@peacenowisrael) March 26, 2019
He added that he expects Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to give the Israeli army an order to cut Hamas capabilities.
Netanyahu, who is also Israel’s Defence Minister, yesterday cut short his two-day trip to the US to deal with the situation in Gaza. He vowed to “manage [Israel’s] operations up close.”
Bennett also called reports of an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire “embarrassing”, saying that he would do all he could to stop it from happening.
Education Minister: 'Bombing an empty building and then feeling good as if this is what is deterring #Hamas is nonsense – it does not work.' #Gaza #Netanyahu #IDF #IsraelElections https://t.co/1M9q9M6R2k
— Yitz (@Greenslime_) March 26, 2019
“There is no country in the world that would not exact a price for rockets fired at its citizens and there is no country in the world where the blood of its citizens is as disregarded as [in the situation] we have seen in recent days.”
Meanwhile, Bennett’s long-time ally Ayelet Shaked also used the ongoing crisis in Gaza as an opportunity to air her views.
'Shooting missiles all over our country is something we will not accept and believe me, the @IDF is one of the strongest armies in the world, and we will have a solution for that,' @Ayelet__Shaked tells @EylonALevy: #Gaza pic.twitter.com/saPnpuRizC
— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) March 25, 2019
Speaking to right-wing Israeli newspaper Arutz Sheva, she said:
“Hamas is simply not afraid of us. The very fact that there are missiles aimed at the entire State of Israel without hindrance is something we must not accept.”
Israel’s Justice Minister criticized Netanyahu’s approach to the enclave, which many on the right wing consider weak.
“We [she and Netanyahu] disagree on the general approach. We must not contain and pay Hamas protection money. They have to be afraid of us. They have to be deterred and we should not allow this rampage to happen.”
Shaked: Treat attacks on Gaza border commuities in same way as attacks on Tel Aviv – https://t.co/HghvQYyVGK
— Ynetnews (@ynetnews) March 26, 2019
This criticism of Netanyahu’s approach to the Gaza Strip has been a favorite topic of right-wing politicians for some time. In November, the same disagreement led then Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman to resign his portfolio, leaving Netanyahu to take over the reins himself.
Speaking at the time after a botched operation by Israel left seven Palestinians and one Israeli dead and resulted in a series of overnight strikes on Gaza, Lieberman said:
“What happened yesterday in terms of the ceasefire […] is submission to terror. What we are in effect doing is buying short term quiet [in Gaza] and the price will be difficult for [Israel’s] security in the long term.”
— Pal+ English (@palplusenglish) November 17, 2018
This criticism has reached fever pitch as Israel’s General Election draws closer.
The Times of Israel pointed out yesterday that, weeks before Israel’s 2009 and 2013 elections, the government launched its 2008 and 2012 military offensives against Gaza after being spurred on by “appeals for a strong retaliation” to alleged rocket fire. If the same happens again, with the election two weeks from today, Israel could face a “khaki election” in which the country goes to the polls during wartime.
(MEMO, PC, Social Media)