Israeli Defense Minister Resigns Over Gaza Cease-fire

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Israeli Defense Minister Resigns Over Gaza Cease-fire
Palestinians survey a destroyed residential building hit by Israeli airstrikes, in Gaza City, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

JERUSALEM (AP) – Hamas says the resignation of Israel’s defense minister after a two-day bout of heavy fighting is a “political victory for Gaza.”

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri says Avigdor Lieberman’s resignation Wednesday marked “recognition of defeat and failure to confront the Palestinian resistance.” He says “Gaza’s steadfastness sent a political shockwave” in Israel.

Lieberman says he is resigning in protest over the cease-fire reached with Gaza militants on Tuesday. Lieberman had advocated for a more decisive blow against Hamas in response to the fiercest wave of rocket attacks against Israel since a 50-day war in 2014.

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.

Lieberman’s resignation delivers a major blow to Israel’s ruling coalition and appears likely to spark early elections.

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman says he is resigning in protest over the cease-fire reached with Gaza militants.

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

Lieberman says the cease-fire reached with Gaza’s Hamas rulers was a “surrender to terrorism.” Lieberman has demanded a far stronger Israeli response to the most intense round of rocket fire against Israel since a 50-day war in 2014. He says he also fiercely objected to Israel’s allowing Qatar to deliver $15 million in aid to Gaza last week.

Lieberman’s resignation will go into effect in 48 hours. Netanyahu will take over on an interim basis.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers “begged for a cease-fire and they know why.”

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His comments Wednesday at a memorial service for Israel’s first leader, David Ben-Gurion, were his first since the two sides ended their most intense round of fighting since a 50-day war in 2014.

Palestinian militants fired 460 rockets and mortars into Israel in a 24-hour period, while the Israeli military carried out airstrikes on 160 Gaza targets. Seven Palestinians, including five militants, were killed. In Israel, one person was killed in a rocket strike and three were critically wounded.

Netanyahu has come under heavy political pressure for not delivering a more decisive blow against Hamas. He responded that “leadership is not doing the easy thing; it is doing the right thing.”

The Israeli military says it has shot at and captured a Palestinian who approached the Gaza perimeter fence and hurled grenades into Israel.

Wednesday’s incident marked the first unrest since Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza accepted an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire to end two days of intense fighting with Israel that had pushed the sworn enemies to the brink of another war.

The military says it spotted the assailant with a knife and wire cutters. The grenades he hurled failed to explode.

The Israeli military says Palestinian militants fired 460 rockets and mortars into Israel in a 24-hour period, while it carried out airstrikes on 160 Gaza targets. Seven Palestinians, including five militants, were killed. In Israel, one person was killed in a rocket strike and three were critically wounded. (AP)

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