Lapid, Sa'ar Slam Netanyahu Over Gaza Operation Outcomes

Lapid says Netanyhau acted 'without policies, responsibility or strategy,' while Sa'ar claims ending the fighting with Hamas 'deals a blow to Israel’s deterrence'

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Yesh Atid leader, Yair Lapid, April 2021.
Yesh Atid leader, Yair Lapid, April 2021.Credit: AMIR COHEN/ REUTERS

Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid took Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to task on Friday on the outcome of Israel's latest operation in Gaza, saying it failed to bring about any major change.

“The defense establishment, first and foremost the defense minister, the chief of staff and the soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces, conducted a high-quality, precise and ethical military operation. Alongside them, however, there was a weak prime minister without policies, responsibility or strategy,” Lapid wrote on Twitter.

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“The citizens of Israel, in particular the citizens in the Gaza border communities, took heavy fire and, in return, received neither achievements nor change in their reality. Netanyahu’s failures stretch from Mount Meron to Gaza, from the Temple Mount to Lod. The time has come for him to go.”

Lapid’s remarks were echoed by Gideon Sa'ar, leader of the New Hope Party, who came out on Thursday against the security cabinet’s decision to approve a cease-fire with Hamas without conditions.

“Ending the fighting with Hamas unilaterally deals a blow to Israel’s deterrence against Hamas and not only against it,” Sa'ar said Thursday night. “Ending Israel’s military operations without imposing any limits on the strengthening and rearming of Hamas, and without the return of soldiers and civilians being held in Gaza, is a political failure whose price we will pay with interest in the future.”

New Hope chairman Gideon Sa'ar and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid in the Knesset, last week.Credit: Knesset Speaker's Office/Noam Moskowitz

He added that “with the best intelligence and air force in the world, Netanyahu succeeded in extracting from Hamas nothing more than an ‘unconditional cease-fire.’ It’s embarrassing.”

Bezalel Smotrich, the chairman of the far-right Religious Zionism Party, also came out against the cease-fire. “They choose dishonor and they get war,” he said of the cabinet decision. He warned Netanyahu via Twitter that if matters relating to the Temple Mount were included in any understandings with Hamas, he would not join a new Netanyahu government.

“If, God forbid, an agreement or agreements with Hamas explicitly or implicitly include so much as a comma relating to Jerusalem (your surrender on the Temple Mount or (the neighborhood) Shimon Hatzadik (Sheikh Jarrah) you can forget about forming a government,” he wrote.

Knesset member Ayelet Shaked from the Yamina party also leveled criticism against the cabinet's decision. She wrote on Twitter that a victory would have included the return of the bodies of Israeli soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul now held by Hamas in Gaza.

Labor leader Merav Michaeli accused Netanyahu of using the conflict in Gaza for his own personal gain. “So what was the purpose of the operation? A cease-fire? Achieving quiet? And what will be done now that we have quiet? Will Netanyahu transfer funds again to Hamas so that they will have even more rockets to launch at us in the next round of fighting? It is time to stop our denial: once again the IDF is acting professionally, the public is proving to be resilient, and Netanyahu is using all of this to strengthen Hamas and to strengthen himself.”

Meanwhile, Meretz lawmaker Tamar Zandberg lauded the truce. “It’s good that the fighting has ended, though it’s a shame it hadn’t been avoided from the outset. The one question that remains is how to avoid the next conflict, and the answer is by talking peace. There’s no military solution to the conflict. Government policies of strengthening Hamas and turning our back on the Palestinian Authority is aimed at preventing any diplomatic agreement, which is the only way of achieving peace and security.”

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