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Bennett: Restraint Against Rocket Fire is 'Weak'

Jewish Home Chairman pushes 'zero tolerance' on rocket fire, slams implication that Negev less important to protect than Tel Aviv.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 7/5/2014, 10:48 PM / Last Update: 7/5/2014, 11:16 PM

Naftali Bennett
Naftali Bennett
Flash 90

Jewish Home Chairman and Economics Minister Naftali Bennett blasted Israel's "weak" policy toward rocket fire from Gaza on Saturday night, in the wake of escalation of the attacks and a near-miss in Be'er Sheva. 

"The strategy of 'we will answer quiet with quiet' harms Israel's deterrence and allows Hamas to grow stronger from round to round," Bennett fired. "Restraint in the face of firing on women and children is not powerful. Restraint in the face of the murder of three children is weak." 

Bennett demanded that defense officials spring into action against the ongoing onslaught of terror. 

"From Syria to Wadi Ara - when we see residents of Be'er Sheva to begin running into shelters, they expect a powerful response, and interpret our non-action as concern [over being defeated - ed.]," he said. "A million people living next to shelters is the situation right now, and we cannot continue it."

"Israel's residents in the south are not second-class citizens, and we must respond to rocket fire on Be'er Sheva as we would to rocket fire on Tel Aviv," he continued, adding that Israel "should not wait" for that escalation before responding. 

"I do not accept the statement that there is no way to stop the rocket fire," he affirmed. "The Jewish people has shown a special resilience with every hardship, and the statement should be clear: we will not tolerate missiles on Israeli cities. We have zero tolerance for terrorism. [We have] zero tolerance for incitement from the Palestinian Authority for our blood." 

Bennett vowed to push this deterrence policy through the government. 

Bennett's comments surface just hours after similar statements from Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud), who vowed to push his own plan to crack down on Hamas and launch a new operation in Gaza. 

"We need to break away from the population in Gaza," Katz said. "We need to set boundaries and say goodbye to Gaza until their is peace - no fuel, no electricity, no water, no food."

"Israel should set a clear goal: to dismantle Hamas of its missile stockpile," he continued. "We should criminalize the Hamas leadership, which is responsible for abduction and murder [of Israelis]."

Hamas rocket fire on Israel has increased dramatically over the past week, with at least fifteen rockets fired on Israel in a 12-hour period on Saturday alone. Two of the rockets were fired on Be'er Sheva, although none hit populated areas. 

Meanwhile, there is no information on a possible ceasefire set to be brokered between Israel and Hamas, via Cairo, as a 48-hour ultimatum to stop the rockets comes to a close.