Ministers Express Support for Ground Operation in Gaza

"Hamas left us no choice," says Minister Naftali Bennett.

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Ido Ben Porat and Elad Benari,

IDF attacks in Gaza
IDF attacks in Gaza

Cabinet ministers from the right and the left expressed their support on Thursday night for Israel’s ground operation in Gaza.

Communications Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) said in an interview on Channel 2 News that the decision to expand Operation Protective Edge into a ground assault was reached unanimously among the entire Cabinet.

"A few days ago we authorized the Prime Minister and Defense Minister to operate according to their discretion, and as other members of the Cabinet said, the decision was unanimous. We think that the Prime Minister made the right decision and we are all united behind the IDF soldiers,” he said.

Erdan stressed that at this stage, the ground operation is aimed at eradicating the threat of terrorist tunnels.

"You cannot live with the knowledge that there are tunnels underground leading into Israeli territory and from which Hamas men can emerge to kill and murder,” he said.

Asked if the operation could expand further, Erdan said that "it depends on the behavior of the other side and therefore the IDF is prepared for any development; if it is necessary to expand, we will expand."

Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) also welcomed the decision to launch a ground operation on Thursday night.

"Congratulations to the Prime Minister for the correct and courageous decision," he said. "We must defeat the Hamas terrorism and restore security to Israeli citizens."

Turning to the IDF fighters who entered Gaza, Ariel added, "We trust in you and are confident that you will do everything to defend Israel and pray that you all come back safely."

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) said she voted in favor of a ground operation “wholeheartedly”.

“We accompany the soldiers anxiously, with love and with confidence in their strength,” she wrote on Facebook.

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) also welcomed the move, telling Army Radio in an interview on Thursday night, “Our patience ran out. Hamas didn’t leave Israel any choice.”