Israelis Angered by Gaza Ceasefire After 174 Mortars and Rockets Hit Negev
By agreeing to Hamas call for ceasefire, residents say Netanyahu gov’t has committed them to ‘war of attrition’
Many Israelis have characterized the government's response to ongoing "terror kite" attacks from Gaza as flaccid, at best.
So, when Hamas and its allies upped the ante by lobbing no fewer than 174 rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel at the weekend, there was some hope that the Israeli army would finally get a green light to take real action.
The Israel Air Force did bomb a number of Hamas and Islamic Jihad installations, but it's the kind of damage from which the terror groups quickly recover.
Israelis want the threat eliminated completely, and see the ceasefire agreed to by the government on Saturday evening as a bandaid on a festering wound.
The constant fear of having to run for bomb shelters at any moment "is ruining our lives," a resident of Kibbutz Kfar Aza told Israel's Mako news portal.
Others complained that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemingly isn't making their ability to live in peace and security a top priority. "Another escalation, and [Netanyahu] is off traveling to the World Cup," said a resident of Netiv HaAsara, referencing the fact that the prime minister took the opportunity during last week's visit to Russia to enjoy the world's largest sporting event.
The government argued that the return of relative quiet to the area known as the "Gaza envelope" should silence the residents' grumbling.
In an interview with the Ynet news portal, Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz insisted that it was Israel's "strong response" to the rocket fire over the weekend that compelled Hamas to seek a ceasefire. "We will not accept any acts of terror against us," Steinitz said, stressing that additional attacks on southern Israel would be dealt with harshly.
But the mayor of Sderot, the Negev town most often hit by Gaza rockets, warned that the manner in which the weekend's violence was resolved had put Hamas, not Israel, in the driver's seat.
"We are not pleased with this ceasefire," Mayor Alon Davidi told Mako. "It is Hamas, not Israel, that's deciding when to escalate and when to back down. I call upon the prime minister and his cabinet to come down to the south and hear from the residents what life is like here."
Mayor Davidi's criticism was echoed by Education Minister Naftali Bennett.
"Allowing Hamas to dictate the terms of the ceasefire after two months of arson attacks and hundreds of rockets on the residents of Gaza border communities is a serious mistake," read a statement released by Bennett. "Showing restraint creates an escalation in violence."
Indeed, as Bennett concluded, the greatest fear of the residents of southern Israel is that their government's policies have committed them to a "long war of attrition."