Party Heads, MKs: Ceasefire Not Such a Good Idea

Smoke and fire rises following an Israeli air strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on November 12, 2018. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90

Despite reports of a ceasefire, rocket fire continued in southern Israel Tuesday afternoon. A missile fell directly on a house in the border community of Netiv Ha’asara, hitting the house’s security room. B’chasdei Shamayim, no one was hurt, as the family was not home at the time, but the home was badly damaged. Israel, meanwhile, attacked several Hamas installations in northern Gaza, reports said.

A ceasefire is supposed to go into effect Tuesday afternoon, but the idea appeared to have little support among Israelis, both on the right and in the opposition. Earlier Tuesday, Hadashot News reported that while Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was not seeking an expanded ground operation in Gaza, Israel was not pursuing a ceasefire at the time, and would continue its air attacks against Hamas targets. Hamas and Islamic State later denied that they had agreed to a ceasefire.

But many MKs appeared not to believe that. Earlier reports said that an Egyptian delegation would arrive in Israel Wednesday to discuss a ceasefire to end the current round of fighting between Israel and Hamas.

MK Eitan Cabel (Zionist Camp) expressed concern that with the arrival of the Egyptian delegation, Israel would back down before doing the thorough job of routing Hamas that political officials on both the right and center-left sought. “When I see footage of the IDF blowing up empty buildings after Hamas fired 300 rockets at us, I know it’s time to worry. In a few hours the Egyptians will be here and will bring with them some money in suitcases for Hamas, and Israel will proclaim ‘don’t restrain us’ before laying down its arms, and we will be right back to where we were before – dependent on the whims of Hamas.”

Yesh Atid chairperson Yair Lapid, too, expressed support for a tougher Israeli response. On a visit to the Gaza border area earlier Tuesday, Lapid said that “the IDF has not utilized its full potential. The Middle East understands one thing, and that is power, and we are not using ours. If I were Prime Minister, Hamas head Ismail Haniyeh would be a dead man.”

Zionist Camp chairperson Avi Gabay as well, speaking in Ashkelon, expressed support for continuing the bombing of Gaza. Netanyahu, he said, had last week “sent millions to Gaza and got back rockets. You cannot buy quiet with money. We can restore quiet if we want to. All of us are united against Hamas.”

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman is expected to make a major push for a ground operation, as he has for months, in order to restore Israel’s deterrence, a position that Netanyahu has resisted. Yediot Achronot on Tuesday quoted a government minister speaking on condition of anonymity before a meeting of the Security Cabinet that “the majority of us continue to want to strike Hamas hard, but not too hard, as there is currently no replacement for Hamas in Gaza. We will listen to what the IDF has to say. The most recent events definitely lends support for Liberman’s position,” the report quoted the minister as saying.

Also speaking to Yediot Achronot Tuesday was former head of military intelligence Amos Yadlin, who said that Israel needed to hit Gaza much harder than has been the case.

“The problem is that Hamas is dictating the course of events. They decide when the firing starts and when it ends. Hamas will accede to a ceasefire when it wants to, and the shooting will stop. We need to change the rules of the game. If the IDF, the best air force in the world, and certainly in the region, could destroy 150 Hamas targets in one night but not kill even one terrorist, there is something wrong. That doesn’t encourage deterrence, it just enhances the Gaza real estate and construction industry, which now has more work thanks to the destruction of so many buildings.”