Nir Barkat
Nir BarkatFlash 90

Economy Minister Nir Barkat criticized the policy of the government towards Hamas.

He began by saying: "This is a painful morning for all of us. I send my condolences and a firm embrace to the families of the soldiers who fell over the past night.

"I am concerned. To my disappointment, we are too benevolent and too considerate. It is unacceptable that we endanger our soldiers and send them, exposed, into all manner of buildings that we have not bombed beforehand."

"Giving in to every external pressure, even to our best friends, is a serious error for which we pay heavily. Our responsibility as the government of Israel is first and foremost to care for Israel's essential interests. We must not give in to any pressure."

Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the claims of US pressure at the Cabinet meeting today: "I have seen erroneous reports to the effect that the US prevented, and is preventing, us from operational actions in the region; this is incorrect. Israel is a sovereign state. Our decisions in the war are based on our operational considerations, and I will not expand further. They are not dictated by external pressure. The decision on how to use our forces is an independent decision of the IDF and nobody else."

Earlier today, the IDF published the names of nine soldiers killed in action in Gaza:

David Bogdanovskyi, 19, from Haifa

Orel Bashan, 20, from Haifa

Roy Elias, 21, from Tzofar

Gal Hershko, 20, from Yiftah

Itamar Shemen, 21, from Lapid

Nadav Issachar Farhi, 30, from Herzliya

Eliyahu Meir Ohana, 28, from Haifa

Elyassaf Shoshan, 23, from Jerusalem

Ohad Ashur, 23, from Kfar Yona

Six more soldiers were seriously injured in various engagements, and their families have been notified.

154 soldiers have been killed since the beginning of the ground offensive into Gaza, 14 of them in the past week alone. A total of 486 IDF soldiers have been killed since the Hamas invasion.