Thankfully, the dispute between Prime Minister Netanyahu and former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman over the appropriate response to those 460 rockets Hamas recently fired into Israel will not result in the collapse of the Netanyahu coalition – at least for now.
While Mr. Lieberman believes war is required to maintain a meaningful deterrence against Hamas – 460 rockets is a lot of rockets – Prime Minister Netanyahu is obviously averse to war at this time, apparently believing that the more than 150 Hamas targets destroyed in retaliatory strikes were sufficient to justify an agreed-upon end to the fighting.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett initially threatened to leave the government because he thought a more robust response was called for, which would have doomed the governing coalition, but he has now chosen to remain in the government in order, he said, to avoid certain chaos at a very dangerous time. It was not lost on him that the Oslo Accords were made possible by the snap collapse of the Shamir government in 1992.
Surely Mr. Lieberman has inside knowledge as to whether Israel is prepared for a major war with Hamas at this time, but the prime minister knows what he knows and is also privy to information in the geo-political arena which he has to juggle.
It is important to keep the recent fighting between Israel and Hamas in proper perspective. It seems to us that some are attaching too much significance to the fact that it followed a secret IDF special unit raid in the Gaza Strip and therefore the blame for the fighting falls on Israel.
To be sure, the immediate precipitant was the discovery of the raid by Hamas, followed by the IDF fighting its way out, which resulted in the death of a Hamas leader, hundreds of Hamas rockets fired at Israel, and fierce Israeli retaliation. Indeed the fighting was the fiercest we’ve seen between Israel and Hamas since Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
Yet, Israel and Hamas have for years been involved in ongoing violent confrontations, triggered by continuous Hamas rockets aimed at Israel and, more recently, deadly hostilities at the Gaza border. And the constant threat posed by Hamas terrorism understandably necessitates missions like the most recent one. Even Hamas has tacitly accepted this as a fact of life.