Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu paid a surprise visit to the Knesset Wednesday to discuss the situation in southern Israel – and promptly got into a shouting match with MKs of the United Arab List, who accused him of carrying out “murders” for “political purposes.” In his remarks, Netanyahu praised the skill of the IDF in the precision strike against Gaza terrorist Abu al-Ata, saying that armies “will learn from our actions.”
On Tuesday, nearly all UAL MKs accused Netanyahu of carrying out the elimination of top Islamic Jihad military commander Abu al-Ata for “political purposes,” specifically for preventing his rival, Benny Gantz, from bringing Arab MKs into his government, or convincing them to support it from outside the coalition. UAL head Ayman Odeh said that “Netanyahu lost two elections in a row, and he intends to leave behind him scorched earth in a desperate attempt to remain on the job.” Earlier, Labor MK Omer Bar-Lev accused Netanyahu of orchestrating the hit on Abu Alata for this week in order to make it impossible for Benny Gantz to include the United Arab List in his coalition negotiations. “This action could have been taken last week or last month,” he told Reshet Bet. “The only reason Netanyahu waited until now was to make it harder for Gantz to form a government.”
Arab MKs continued that tact Wednesday. As he delivered an official statement, Arab MKs shouted out anti-Netanyahu slogans, as well as “murderer” and “warmonger.” Netanyahu said that contrary to the accusations that he lost no opportunity to attack Gazans, the Prime Minister that the situation was quite the opposite. “There were many repeated requests for action by security officials that I turned down because there was a chance that non-combatants could be hurt,” he said. “We are trying to minimize the damage to civilians. This is totally different than what the terrorists – whom some MKs try to defend – are doing. Their purpose is to harm civilians, and their targets are residential neighborhoods.”
Turning to Arab MK Ahmed Tibi, Netanyahu said that “yesterday you said I had to be removed for war crimes,” a ridiculous charge given the terrorist activities of Abu al-Ata. Tibi screamed back, calling Netanyahu a “liar, an inciter, because of you my family gets death threats.” After being told three times to calm down and refusing, Tibi was escorted by guards out of the plenum.
After order was restored, Netanyahu said that “the time has come to tell the truth about our activities. We do everything possible to avoid harming the civilian population and innocent bystanders. We do things that no army in the world does, we try to conduct surgical strikes against the specific targets. We do this on an unprecedented level, and we proved this” with the elimination of Abu al-Ata, who alone with his wife was killed in the strike by the IDF early Tuesday as they were asleep, with only the bedroom damaged in the attack – and the rest of the house relatively unscathed, Netanyahu said.
“What we did in Gaza Tuesday will be taught in armies around the world, and already people are learning from it,” the Prime Minister added. “Without these kinds of surgical strikes, you will never be able to fight terrorists, because they will always take shelter with innocent people. Unfortunately, what happens in the Knesset is that some MKs – but not the majority – do something unbelievable: They attack those who respect the rule of law in warfare, IDF soldiers, and the government that sends them to fight, calling them war criminals,” while defending the actual war criminals, he added.