MK Bezalel Smotrich
MK Bezalel SmotrichPhoto: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

MK Bezalel Smotrich, head of the Religious Zionism party, criticized Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for not retaliating to the rocket fire earlier this week.

On Monday, Gaza's Islamic Jihad terror group fired at the city of Sderot in southern Israel. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted the launch, which Islamic Jihad claimed was in retaliation for the deaths of two terrorists who engaged IDF soldiers in a shootout.

"Bennett was Defense Minister, and all of these considerations are not supposed to be new to him," Smotrich said. "The issue is that his government is dependent on the votes of a sister movement to Hamas, and he knows very well that a conflict with Hamas may bring it down. In order to be Prime Minister, he endangered and continues to endanger Israel's security."

The Ra'am (United Arab List) party is headed by MK Mansour Abbas, who is also the leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel. The party hold four Knesset seats, and is part of Bennett's narrow 61-MK coalition.

Smotrich's comments follow an editorial by Yediot Aharonot's Yossi Yehoshua, who warned that Israeli deterrence would be weakened by a lack of response to the rocket fire on Sderot.

"Rocket fire from Gaza in the middle of the day, towards Sderot, while Israel makes efforts to advance an agreement, cannot remain unanswered, certainly, after you ignored [incidents] in the north, and after you promised to change the situation in the south," Yehoshua wrote.

He added: "Everyone is examining Bennett, and it is not right for them to smell weakness. It's easy to imagine how he would have responded from the benches of the opposition."

On Tuesday, Bennett held a situational assessment in the Gaza Division, emphasizing: "Our mission is to provide long-term security for the residents of the south and the residents of the Gaza Strip. We will act at a time, place and under conditions that suit us, and not anyone else."

"As far as we are concerned, the address in Gaza is Hamas. No one was rebelling against them and there is no one else, only Hamas."