Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) said on Friday that it was time to put an end to the Hamas rule of Gaza, and that an aerial operation is not enough to accomplish this.
Speaking to Channel 2 News, Liberman noted that Operation Protective Edge is the third IDF operation in Gaza over the past five years, and added that this time it was important “not only to stop the rocket fire now, but to prevent a fourth operation.”
"I hear the citizens and have been speaking with dozens of them in recent days," he said. "Everyone says, ‘Go all the way, we have patience, we are prepared to take [rocket fire]'. But we cannot repeat the same script every few months. We need to put an end to this phenomenon.”
Liberman continued, "Right now we are focused on the goals defined by the Prime Minister, stopping the rocket fire by Hamas and damaging terrorist infrastructure, but you have to understand that there is the next step. Harming terrorism from the air is not enough, because most of the terrorist infrastructure is under schools, medical clinics and multi-story buildings.”
"If we only achieve a ceasefire, then in another 10-15 months we will be back for another round, and this time Hamas will increase the amount of missiles as well as its tunnel digging,” he stressed.
Liberman has long been a proponent of Israel retaking Gaza in order to completely stop the rocket fire. Last week, before the current operation began, he called for Israel to launch a military operation in Gaza similar to the large-scale Operation Defensive Shield which took place in Judea and Samaria in 2002.
In Friday’s interview, Liberman was also asked about his announcement this past Monday that his faction is splitting off from Likud's and will be independent from it from now on.
“Yisrael Beytenu is the most stable faction in the coalition with the least problems. I think it's cynical to stay in a framework that you understand no longer exists,” he said, and stressed that he has no plans to quit the coalition.
"There are differences of opinion. This is the most colorful coalition I know. There is nothing in common between Yael German and Orit Strook, or between Amram Mitzna and Uri Ariel. But you cannot be one party with different views on various points and issues,” said Liberman.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)