Mati Tuchfeld and Gideon Allon, ISRAEL HAYOM
An Israeli air strike in Rafah on Tuesday
Israeli politicians across the political spectrum are calling for a tougher response to Hamas, following a barrage of rockets launched at southern and central Israel on Tuesday, in violation of the temporary cease-fire agreement that had been in place.
“When you negotiate with a terrorist organization, you get more terrorism in return,” said Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi). “Sooner or later, Israel will have to defeat Hamas.”
Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi) shared Bennett’s sentiments, saying, “We must attack our enemy Hamas until we achieve victory. I support the prime minister and the security forces in responding to the terrorists with a heavy blow and restoring security to Israeli citizens. There is no way we will cease as they fire.”
Opposition Leader Isaac Herzog (Labor) criticized the government’s attempts to reach a long-term deal through negotiations thus far, also suggesting a need for a tougher approach to Hamas.
“It is the prime minister’s job to provide security and calm to residents of the south,” he said. “If, as the prime minister claims, Hamas has been defeated, then he should reach a diplomatic deal under the best terms possible for Israel. But, if the government buckles to provide a false sense of quiet, as we experienced today [Tuesday] — this indicates a failure on the part of a weak government.”
Habayit Hayehudi MK Nissan Slomiansky joined the chorus of voices expressing frustration with the negotiation process with Hamas. “Today it was made clear once again that we have no one to speak to, and that the other side is exclusively interested in destroying Israel,” he said.
Habayit Hayehudi MK Yoni Chetboun called for a renewed military response to the rocket fire, saying, “We have to let the Israel Defense Forces do their job, that is the only way we will get the quiet we long for.”
On the left side of the political spectrum, Labor MK Nachman Shai called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to stop negotiations with Hamas. “That is the only language [Hamas] understands,” he said.
However, Meretz Chairwoman MK Zehava ?Gal-On said the prime minister should disregard “the extremist cabinet ministers,” Bennett and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who are calling to defeat Hamas. “There is no doubt that rocket fire on Israel during cease-fire talks is intolerable,” she said, “but a responsible leadership does not allow terrorism to dictate its moves.”