Netanyahu: The Battle Is Not Over

YERUSHALAYIM -
Streaks of light are pictured as rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip toward Israel, as seen from Ashkelon, Motzoei Shabbos. (Reuters/Amir Cohen)

In a statement Monday morning, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said, “[I]n the past two days we caused a great deal of damage to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. We hit over 350 targets, as well as terrorists and buildings that house their terror efforts. The battle is not ended, and requires patience and intelligence. We are prepared for the future. Our purpose has been and remains to ensure the security of residents of the south. I send my condolences to the families of those killed in the battle, and my hopes for the recovery of the injured.”

Although there is no official ceasefire with Hamas, there are apparently “understandings” that led the IDF to lift most of the restrictions imposed on travel and public gatherings Sunday as Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired some 700 missiles at Israel – and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is being slammed for agreeing to those understandings by the opposition, by his potential coalition partners, and even from within his own party.

The latter criticism comes from Gideon Saar, number five on the Likud list. In a social media post, Saar wrote that “a ceasefire under these circumstances indicates a lack of achievement for Israel” as a result of the fighting. “The periods of calm between the rounds of fire are getting shorter, and the Gaza terror groups are getting stronger. The battle has not been prevented, just postponed.”

Likud sources told Channel 12 that Saar’s comments were just more sour grapes, another complaint about the Prime Minister with whom he does not get along. “Since 2015, when he attacked Netanyahu and the Likud without a break, Gideon Saar has had one purpose – to remove Binyamin Netanyahu as head of the Likud. The reasons he gives change, the purpose of his criticizing doesn’t. Many of the residents of the south expressed their faith in the way Netanyahu was managing the crisis. Saar did not give even one minute of credit to the prime minister, and immediately joined the criticism of Benny Gantz and other opposition members.”

Defending Netanyahu from within the Likud was MK Avi Dichter, who said that “Hamas and Islamic Jihad understand clearly the price that they have paid.” The cease-fire was agreed to by Israel, not from a position of weakness, but because of its strength – and was pursued by the Gaza terror groups, who are fearful of what the IDF can do to them. “Hamas saw very clearly what happened in just a day, when the IDF increased its level of attack and pressure in its choice of targets.”

Also criticizing the cease-fire was United Right List MK Betzalel Smotrich – likely to be a minister in Netanyahu’s new government. Smotrich said that “the battle in Gaza must end with at least 700 dead terrorists – one for each of the rockets fired at Israel – and in tremendous damage to Hamas that it will take them years to recover from, and deter them from even the thought of attacking Israel again. We cannot have a million and a half Israelis in bomb shelters week after week.”