Liberman Slams Ceasefire Proposal With Hamas as 'Huge Mistake'
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) released harsh criticism against the government's response to Hamas on Friday, amid a constant barrage of rocket fire and rumors of peace being brokered through Egypt.
"These quiet messages we send to Hamas offering a ceasefire are a huge mistake," Liberman said Friday while visiting the city of Sderot. "Answering this [terror] with silence is a serious mistake and we in Yisrael Beytenu reject this approach."
"How can it be that, after we have three boys kidnapped and murdered, and two consecutive weeks of rocket fire, Israel's approach is: silence will be met with silence?" he asked. "Even while we visit here, Hamas continues to grow stronger, and produce an eight inch diameter rocket that can reach Tel Aviv and Gush Dan."
"We must accept the reality that this is a mistake," he added. "Instead of dealing with the problem, we are rejecting the problem."
Liberman than laid out a plan, saying "we must first destroy the terrorist infrastructure and stop rocket production today," noting that rockets now "are capable of reaching Netanya."
He also proposed a ground assault.
"It is impossible to destroy terrorist infrastructures only from the air," he dismissed. "Most of these plants for missile production are under schools, clinics, and mosques."
"We need to get our hands on all those who committed and supported the kidnapping and murder of children," he continued, calling for the targeting of Hamas leaders.
"That also includes the Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Mashaal, the heads of Hamas; and all those who came out, encouraged and supported [the abduction] - and it does not matter if they sit in Qatar or Gaza," he stated. "The money comes from Qatar - and Hamas, Khaled Mashaal and Azmi Bishara are sitting in Qatar. Bishara sits there and puts money in operations in Israel."
Liberman added that he has high hopes for US involvement in the situation.
"I spoke with the chairman of the Subcommittee of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the U.S. Congress, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen about it," he said. "Hamas is a terrorist organization even by American law. One of the [abducted] boys was a US citizen [Naftali Frenkel hy"d; ed.] and I hope that Congress will act against the Qataris."
"I look forward to seeing that Jewish communities and organizations in the US have their say in this matter," he added.
Liberman has been particularly vocal about launching another ground assault into Gaza, and even more so since the horrific abduction and murder of yeshiva students Eyal Yifrah (19), Gilad Sha'ar (16), and Naftali Frenkel (16) last month.
Earlier this week, Liberman proposed - and not for the first time - that Israel should "consider" retaking Gaza, noting that a "limited" operation in Judea and Samaria against Hamas could prove ineffective.
"We have to decide whether we are going to explore the alternative of full occupation of the Gaza Strip," Liberman said. "We saw that a limited operation only strengthens Hamas in the end; the alternative is clear."
Friday's remarks surface in the wake of rumors of a ceasefire being negotiated with Hamas through Cairo, although Israel has yet to confirm those rumors.
In the meantime, several top-ranking officials have noted that Hamas's time during the 48-hour ultimatum to stop the rocket fire is dwindling, and the IDF is preparing for a strike.