In a dramatic development Tuesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has fired his Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon.
Danon, who is a member of Netanyahu's Likud party, has been a consistent and sometimes harsh critic of the prime minister's leadership. Sources close to the PM say Danon's scathing criticism of the government's decision to sign up to a ceasefire agreement with Hamas proved the last straw.
Hopes of a ceasefire crumbled after Hamas rejected it and fired dozens of rockets onto Israeli population centers, prompting Israel to respond with more airstrikes after several hours of restraint.
While some analysts - including Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman - have criticized the government's willingness to consider yet another ceasefire with Hamas, others have praised the decision to accept as a smart move which isolated Hamas internationally after the Islamist terrorist group rejected it, and gave Israel more legitimacy to continue its ongoing operation in Gaza.
"At a time when the Government of Israel and the IDF find themselves at the height of a military operation against terrorist organizations, and are acting with determination to ensure the security of the citizens of the country, it is unacceptable that the deputy defense minister attacks so sharply the actions of the government that is leading the operation," Netanyahu wrote in a statement explaining his decision.
"These serious statements on the part of the deputy defense minister express a great lack of responsibility, which is particularly true given the the position he serves," the prime minister added.
Netanyahu continued by claiming that Hamas had in the past used Danon's criticism of the Israeli government in its propaganda material against Israel.
"In view of these statements expressing a lack of faith in the government and in its prime minister in particular, it would be expected that the deputy defense minister would exercise some responsibility for his actions and resign. When he did not do so of his own accord, I decided to remove him from his post," he added.
MK Danon responded to the decision with more fierce criticism of Netanyahu.
"The prime minister does not accept that there are other opinions within the party," fired Danon. "Netanyahu grovelled in front of Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas], and freed 78 terrorists just for a joint seat at the negotiating table; he hasn't responded to the murder of the three teens, Gilad Sha'ar, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrah h"yd; and this morning he agreed to a ceasefire that is very bad for Israel. What values will he give up on next?"
Danon stood by his decision to oppose the ceasefire deal, which he said would have left millions of Israelis still at the mercy of terrorist rockets.
And he took aim at what he referred to s the "prime minister's weak, leftist spirit," asserting that his own position was more representative of Likud values.
"I will not sell my ideology for the sake of an office and a chauffeur... I will continue to ensure that the Likud party won't become a chapter of Meretz," he said, referring to the far-left Meretz party.