Israel’s defense minister resigns in protest over Gaza cease-fire

Israel’s defense minister resigns in protest over Gaza cease-fire

Israel's defense minister abruptly resigned Wednesday in protest over a cease-fire reached with Gaza militants, in a move that rocked the Israeli political scene and seemed likely to bring about early elections. "Netanyahu, Bennett and the rest of the failing Cabinet ministers, who have abandoned the south and our deterrence, need to do so as well".

JERUSALEM: Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced his resignation on Wednesday and called for early elections after a sharp disagreement over a Gaza ceasefire deal, throwing the government into turmoil.

At a memorial event for Israel's first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, and his wife, Paula, Netanyahu defended the ceasefire announcement, claiming that Hamas "begged" Israel for the ceasefire.

Hamas and other Islamic terror groups launched some 460 rockets at Israel over a 24-hour period earlier this week, killing one person and injuring some 70 others. Seven more Palestinian militants were killed in Gaza, one Palestinian was killed in Ashkelon and dozens were injured on both sides of the border.

Palestinians in Gaza look on at the remains of the Yaziji building in Gaza City, following air strikes by the Israeli Air Force.

In announcing his resignation over the deal, Liberman said Israel's response to the Hamas rocket bombardment was "inadequate" and projected weakness to enemies on other fronts.

In southern Israel, news of the ceasefire was greeted with anger as dozens of protesters in the rocket-battered town of Sderot chanted "Disgrace!" at what they saw as the government's capitulation to violence and its inability to provide them with safety. "Believe me, they are precious to me, their words penetrate my heart".

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"In times of emergency, when making decisions crucial to security, the public can´t always be privy to the considerations that must be hidden from the enemy", he said at a ceremony on Wednesday.

"The value of even holding a [security] cabinet meeting is zero", an official told the broadcaster. Leadership is doing the right thing, even if it is hard.

"I see the big picture of Israeli security that I can not share with the public", he said.

In response to a question on a possible ceasefire being brokered by Egypt, the ambassador said Israel's "approach is very clear; if it will not be quiet in Israel, it will not be quiet in Gaza". Over the weekend, some Gaza neighborhoods enjoyed 8 hours of electricity, a massive triumph for many people.

In a shock move that caused a political quake in Israel and sent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government into turmoil, Liberman announced he was quitting his post as defense minister over his sharp disagreement to a Gaza ceasefire deal announced a day earlier.

However, another key coalition partner Habayit Hayehudi, headed by Education Minister Naftali Bennett, also threatened to quit if the defence portfolio did not go to its leader. Without Beit Hayehudi, Netanyahu's fourth government will collapse. In recent days, Israel had allowed fuel shipments to increase the power supply in Gaza, which suffers from frequent blackouts, and agreed to additional Qatari assistance to allow Hamas to pay the salaries of its thousands of government workers.

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