As Israel’s border with Gaza heats up, Israeli officials from the highest echelons – even some who are known for their anti-war philosophies – have declared that the State will defend Israeli citizens and restore order in the south.
On Sunday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that he would support a ground incursion into Gaza in the name of Israeli security. “If we are forced to reenter Gaza in order to deal Hamas a blow and restore security for all of Israel’s citizens, then we will not hesitate to do it,” he said.
In an interview with The Jerusalem Post on Sunday for their 80th anniversary supplement, President Shimon Peres called rocket attacks from Gaza “idiotic”, questioning the goals of the terrorists and adding that “if they shoot, we have to respond fully and immediately. There is no room for any consideration.” Yet Israel should continue to try to “achieve peace” even while it defends itself, he said.
Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon said he supports the targeted killing of terror chiefs, which he said were very effective at maintaining quiet when he was IDF Chief of Staff in 2003-2004, prior to his resignation due to his refusal to participate in the forced expulsion of Jews from the Gush Katif communities of Gaza under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Ya’alon said the possibility of re-enacting this policy, and of sending Israeli troops into Gaza, was “being weighed”.
Internal Defense Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich recommended that the IDF act in a way which is “painful” to Hamas in order to bring an end to the “intolerable” situation of Israelis in the south. He did not advocate Israel retaking the land.
Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter said the “terror state” in Gaza should be treated to a “totally different deterrence situation”, and told Israel’s Army Radio on Sunday that the government would do the right thing for Israel’s security, without regard to how it might affect upcoming prime ministerial elections.
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said Israel had no choice but to respond to the rockets, which would otherwise just begin reaching farther into Israel.
Beersheva mayor Rubik Danilovich called on the government on Sunday to end the “war of attrition” between Israel and terrorists in Gaza, and will meet on Monday with Prime Minister Netanyahu, where he is expected to urge the prime minister to do whatever it takes to bring an end to the attacks.
The loudest voice against taking military measures to protect Israeli citizens belongs to Labor Party head Shelly Yechimovich, who told Army Radio that army activity would get in the way of the approaching election season. “We are on the eve of elections, and operations more than air strikes or targeted attacks require stability and national consensus.”
“It could be that such an operation is needed, but not now,” she said.