Lieberman resigns from defense minister post

Clay Curtis
November 14, 2018

Lieberman's resignation Wednesday significantly weakens Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling coalition government and could bring about an early election.

Lieberman's resignation comes amid his rumoured disagreement with Prime Minister Netanyahu over the latter's push for a ceasefire with Hamas that wrapped up almost two days of intense shelling and missile attacks from both sides across the Gaza border. The resignation will take effect after 48 hours.

Following increasing escalation in the region, Palestinian resistance groups Tuesday announced a truce with Israel under Egypt's mediation.

The latest fighting was triggered by a botched Israeli raid into Gaza on Sunday that ignited clashes and left seven Palestinian militants and a senior Israeli officer dead.

Scores of Israelis demonstrated outside the Knesset (Israel's parliament) on Wednesday to demand Netanyahu's resignation, accusing him of "betraying" the people of southern Israel. As a result, early elections are expected as soon as March 2019.

Missiles from Israel's Iron Dome air defence system in the south of Israel destroy incoming missiles fired at Israel from the Palestinian enclave of Gaza above Ashkelon on November 13, 2018.

"At the end of the day Israel does not have credible political options vis-a-vis the Gaza Strip, but also appears unprepared to relinquish its blockade of the coastal territory", Rabbani said.

The truce, announced Tuesday by Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip, came after almost two days of heavy shelling from both sides that had threatened to descend into full-blown war.

But hours after Netanyahu spoke Sunday, an Israeli commando unit on an undercover mission was caught behind enemy lines in Gaza by Hamas militants.

Al-Jazeera reports the cease-fire set off celebrations in Gaza, "with hundreds of Palestinians taking to the streets to declare victory".

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Netanyahu defended his strategy and said: "Our enemies begged for a ceasefire".

Israel withdrew settlers and soldiers from Gaza in 2005 but maintains tight control of its land, air and sea borders.

Israel carried out major air strikes, with targets including Hamas´s Al-Aqsa TV station and internal security headquarters in Gaza City.

A Hamas official said the violence erupted on Sunday when a group of its members were fired upon by a passing vehicle belonging to Israel forces.

Two others were killed in targeted Israeli strikes, one on a militant involved in launching rockets and another against a group of Gazans seen attempting to breach the border.

Lieberman says the cease-fire reached with Gaza's Hamas rulers was a "surrender to terrorism".

The escalation came despite Netanyahu's decision to allow Qatar to transfer millions of dollars in aid to Gaza for salaries as well as fuel to ease an electricity shortage.

Demonstrators each week have approach the border fence, throwing firebombs, grenades and burning tires at Israeli troops. Israel says it is defending its border against attackers, but it has come under heavy global criticism for shooting unarmed people.

"Every time Hamas fires a rocket, children at school, adults at work, families across Israel hear this", he said before playing a recording of a wailing siren.

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