Israel’s Jewish Home threatens Netanyahu: ‘Give us Defence Ministry or we leave’

Hannah Rogers
November 15, 2018

With air raid sirens wailing throughout southern Israel and the explosions of airstrikes thundering in Gaza, the two sides had appeared to be on the verge of their fourth war in a decade.

All was quiet on Israel's southern front on Wednesday a day after Hamas unleashed the worst attack on Israel in years.

However, Israel's military said it had captured an armed Palestinian who tried to breach the Israel-Gaza border fence.

After more than six hours of deliberations on Tuesday, Israel's security cabinet unanimously agreed to am Egyptian-brokered ceasefire to bring to an end a major flare-up with Gazan militants that saw almost 500 rockets fired into Israeli territory in a 25-hour bombardment.

The battle - the largest since the 2014 Gaza war - ended on Tuesday evening with an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire, which hasn't been formally recognized by Israeli officials.

In announcing his resignation over the deal, Liberman said Israel's response to the Hamas rocket bombardment was "inadequate" and projected weakness to enemies on other fronts.

The ceasefire in Gaza, which was widely described as the Israeli "recognition of its defeat at the hands of the Palestinian resistance", also led to the resignation of Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli minister of military affairs and the head of Yisrael Beiteinu.

"I see the big picture of Israeli security that I cannot share with the public, I wish I could share everything I know", Netanyahu said at a memorial ceremony for Israel's first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion. Seven Palestinians, including five militants, were killed.

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In Gaza, people celebrated the ceasefire, which Hamas portrayed as a victory. Lieberman's resignation will come into effect within 48 hours.

Relatives of Palestinian Musab Hawss, who was killed in an Israeli air strike, mourn over his body at Shifa Hospital morgue, in Gaza city, on November 13, 2018. Israel's aircraft struck Gaza, after a barrage of rocket fire into its territory from the enclave.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the military did not comment, but the Home Front Command removed late Tuesday all limitations on southern residents, sending children back to school after two days in shelters. "It's a shame. Instead of helping us and letting us live quietly, they let us suffer".

Netanyahu's office insists now, in this "sensitive security period", is not the time to hold an election.

The conflict began on Sunday, when Israeli special forces entered the town of Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip.

But Jewish Home, the party of Education Minister Naftali Bennett, was threatening to withdraw if he is not given the defence portfolio.

Liberman also said he had not agreed to allow fuel from Qatar and $15 million in cash to enter the Gaza Strip, arguing that it could be used to fund terrorism.

At least 233 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israeli fire since March 30, the majority shot on the border, while others have died in Israeli strikes. Israel's widely-criticized practices in Gaza would likely become much more severe should Bennett take charge of the defense ministry.

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