Israeli DM Liberman resigns after security cabinet decides on ceasefire with Hamas

After a six-hour meeting, the Israeli security cabinet – which is headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – announced its decision ‘to halt further air strikes and other attacks on terror installations in the Gaza Strip’, and ‘to renew Jerusalem’s efforts to reach an arrangement with the Islamist Hamas organization’. The Security Cabinet’s decision was reportedly made “without a vote,” after close to 48 hours in which more than 460 rockets and mortar shells were fired by Islamist Palestinian factions from Gaza toward Israel’s southern communities, while the IDF struck some 150 targets across the Hamas-controlled enclave. It is important to note that both Egypt and Qatar worked tirelessly behind the scenes, applying significant pressure on the Islamist organizations to halt their violence – efforts that resulted in a pledge by both Hamas and the Islamic Jihad to stop all hostilities directed at Israel, if Jerusalem would agree to cease all hostilities directed at the Islamist factions in the Palestinian enclave. The statement by the internationally recognized terror groups, with backed assurances from Cairo and Doha, apparently convinced the Israeli security cabinet to, yet again, evade an all-out war and seek the option of reaching an arrangement for a long-lasting cessation of hostilities. The decision, however, is perceived by many in Israel’s southern communities as a capitulation to Hamas. Shortly after the announced decision, hundreds of residents of the southern Israeli town of Sderot flooded to the streets to protest against the country’s leadership in Jerusalem. According to Yohai Dahan, a resident of Israeli city of Sderot, “Everybody wants a ceasefire, but we want to return the power of deterrence to the army. We are sick and tired of getting more terror and more Qassam (rockets) and more temporary ceasefires every month. It seems that our government has lost its deterrence power. It seems they do not understand what is going on.” Eli Buteira, an additional resident of Sderot- “People here just had enough, they had enough, we don’t have any security, any confidence. It’s amazing that we are such a strong country, we have all the abilities to strike Hamas within a day and (they are) just losers.” Meanwhile in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian residents flooded the streets to celebrate, what is perceived in the enclave to be a Hamas victory. Gazan resident Hashem Sharaab said “People came out today because of the victory of the resistance factions and these people support the resistance factions. We tell the resistance factions – all the people are behind you and the victory of the resisting factions is a victory of the Palestinians.” Another Gaza resident, Khamis Al-Agha, added “We congratulate ourselves and we congratulate our people because we have these brave resistance factions which have proved and keep on proving every day that they are responsible and can repulse the aggression (of Israel) and rein it.” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum, who joined the Palestinian celebrations, declared the Islamist militant groups of Gaza have managed to outsmart the Israeli government. Fawzi Barhoum, Hamas Spokesman, stated that “There have been daily efforts by Qatar and Egypt to contribute significantly to reaching a ceasefire and the resistance responded and broke the rules of the occupation.”

Meanwhile in Jerusalem, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced his resignation today, asserting that he cannot accept the Israeli government’s lack of action against the terror emanating from the Gaza Strip. During a special press conference at his Yisrael Beiteinu faction in Jerusalem, the Israeli top defense official underscored that the decision, which was ultimately made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had no other meaning than capitulating to terror. Lieberman said “I’m here to announce my resignation as the Defense Minister of the state of Israel. The question asked, why now? From my perspective, what happened yesterday, yesterday’s ceasefire, in context with the process to reach an arrangement with Hamas, is a capitulation to terror. There is no other definition for it, no other meaning that capitulating to terror.” The outgoing Defense Minister also took the opportunity to call for elections, while accusing the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of lacking what it takes to preserve the national security interests of the Jewish state. Lieberman added that “What I’m also asking for, is to set a date as soon as possible for national elections.”