'We paid too heavy a price'

Jewish Home chief tells Arutz Sheva Israel failed to win decisive victory against Hamas or restore deterrence.

Hezki Baruch ,

Scene of rocket attack in Ashkelon
Scene of rocket attack in Ashkelon
IDF Spokesman Unit

Jewish Home chief MK Rabbi Rafi Peretz warned Monday afternoon that the ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas which went into effect Monday morning would not restore Israel’s long-term security, adding that the latest round of fighting between Israel and Gaza did not end with a decisive defeat of the Hamas terror organization.

“This battle needs to result in one thing: a clear sense of deterrence – but we didn’t not achieve that,” Peretz told Arutz Sheva, hours after a ceasefire went into effect Monday.

“We need to continue work to prevent attacks, continue to hit critical targets which we have the opportunity to strike at. We can’t stop this [campaign].”

A resident of southern Israel near the Gaza Strip, Peretz said the ceasefire had left Israelis on the Gaza front with a high level of uncertainty – and anxiety – regarding their security situation.

“I live in the Gaza periphery area, and around there people are very anxious, worried that maybe there could be shooting again in a couple of hours. It’s outrageous that we have live with these fears, while the murderous Hamas terrorist leaders walk around in security. They need to be on the agenda all the time, and I know that’s the thing that could hurt them the most.”

Peretz added that he believed Israel failed to achieve victory or restore its deterrence against Hamas in the latest round of fighting, and said the country “paid too high a price” during the latest escalation.

“In this battle we did not reach a definite conclusion in the sense of restoring deterrence, and as far as I’m concerned, [the battle] isn’t over. I’m happy to see that the Prime Minister said the same thing. We need to finish this battle properly. They need to understand that they cannot cross this line, and that there is an iron wall between us.”

“We paid too high a price. It is unacceptable that we lose four people dead and almost 100 injured and when we finish the battle, the leaders of Hamas are celebrating in Gaza.”

A ceasefire agreement brokered by Egypt went into effect at 4:30 Monday morning, following two days of rocket attacks by Gaza-based terrorists and Israeli retaliatory strikes inside Gaza.

Some 700 rockets were launched from Gaza towards Israel, killing four and injuring dozens.

Israeli airstrikes in the Strip killed 23 Gazans, including nine people identified as Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists.

Several coalition MKs ripped the ceasefire agreement, saying Israel failed to achieve its goals during the fighting, and gained nothing from the ceasefire.

“The ceasefire, in the circumstances it was reached under, has no gains for Israel,” said Likud MK Gideon Saar.

“The time between each round of violent attacks against Israel and its citizens is shrinking, and terror organizations in Gaza are strengthening. The fighting hasn’t been ended, just pushed off.”

Union of Right-Wing Parties MK Bezalel Smotrich said Israel should have hit Hamas hard enough to deter future attacks.

“The battle with Gaza needed to end with seven hundred terrorists killed – one for every rocket fired at Israel, with heavy physical damage to Hamas, the kind that will take years for them to recover from so that it will be difficult for them to think of attacking again.”

“We cannot force one-and-a-half million citizens in the south to head to the bomb shelters every few weeks.”

Opposition lawmakers also criticized the ceasefire deal, with Blue and White party chairman MK Benny Gantz saying that “after nearly 700 rockets fired into Israeli territory, with four people killed and many injured – all of them as a result of the loss of deterrence – this [round] has ended with yet another surrender to Hamas and the terrorist organizations.”

“All the government has done, yet again, is leave the next battle at our doorstep.”

Blue and White MK Yair Lapid accused Netanyahu of leading Israel’s “total surrender” to Hamas.

“Netanyahu used the residents of the south as a bullet-proof vest on his way to the complete surrender to Hamas. Netanyahu won’t solve the problem in Gaza. He doesn’t have the operational and political courage to do that. At the very least, he owes the people of Israel an explanation regarding the situation, but even that he doesn’t have the courage to do.”