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Israeli press review: Israeli politicians call for 'return to assassinations' in Gaza

Lieberman denounced as a 'toy Rambo' and 'absolute zero', while a candidate for prime minister promises assassinations if elected
An Israeli soldier lies on a picnic table near the Israeli side of the Israel-Gaza frontier. (Reuters)

Centrist PM candidate vows extrajudicial killings

A centrist candidate to unseat Benjamin Netanyahu as Israeli prime minister said if he was elected to the country’s top office, he would task the army with assassinating Hamas leaders, Israel Channel 20 reports.

Criticizing the current Israeli assault on Gaza as not nearly forceful enough, Yair Lapid, leader of centrist opposition party Yesh Atid, vowed if elected to order the extrajudicial execution of one of the most powerful men in Gaza: Hamas political chief Ismail Haniyeh.

“In the Middle East, they only understand strength, and we are not utilising it. If I am prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh is as good as dead,” Lapid said, according to Channel 20.

“We must return to targeted assassinations. Hamas must know that they are as good as dead.”

Last month, Lapid called upon the Israeli government to destroy the homes of Palestinian leaders in Gaza, but did not clarify whether the homes should be bombed with their occupants still inside them.

The leaders of far-right government factions have made similar calls for Hamas leaders to be assassinated in recent years. In December 2015, Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the Yisrael Beiteinu party and now defence minister, endorsed the extrajudicial execution of Haniyeh, and in August, education minister and Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett also called for “assassinating the Hamas leadership”.

Lieberman goes from Rambo to zero for one ex-ally

As the Israeli army continued its latest round of air assaults on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, right-wing populists harshly criticised the government for not authorising even more punitive attacks, calling Defence Minister Lieberman “an absolute zero” and the rest of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet “bunnies”.

Sharon Gal, who was a lawmaker with the far-right Yisrael Beiteinu party at the beginning of the current term of parliament, on Tuesday levelled a scathing critique at Lieberman, the party’s leader with whom he once had warm relations.

“If you are a group of wimps unable to make decisions, go home. For weeks and weeks here you spoke like Rambo, you threatened several and definitive attacks from every podium,” Gal told listeners of his radio show on Galey Israel.

“And in the end, children in the south go to sleep and wet their beds at night. Why should Jewish children have to go to sleep in fear?”

Gal continued: “The defence minister, that toy Rambo, is silent. I was a member of his party, and this morning I am ashamed of it, I am ashamed that I was a lawmaker of that party. This is a defence minister that does nothing but talk.

“You are an absolute zero.”

Meanwhile, a government lawmaker sent a message to a group of party loyalists depicting Netanyahu’s cabinet as a warren of rabbits. MP Akram Hasson shared with Tel Aviv-area members of the Kulanu party an image of six bunnies sitting in a circle, to which is added: “Discussing the situation at the [defence ministry headquarters] in Tel Aviv – they’re all bunnies.”

Hasson told Israel Mako news that he shared the meme with Kulanu party members in order to let them know “what people think about us”.

Southern Israelis lash out at left-leaning leaders

Lawmakers from the left-leaning Meretz party visited an Israeli town targeted by Gaza missiles and were rebuffed by angry locals, as seen in an Israel Channel 2 News video.

Party leader Tamar Zandberg and two other Meretz parliamentarians, Ilan Gilon and Michal Rozen, received a torrent of verbal abuse when they visited Sderot on Tuesday, intending to demonstrate their solidarity with the town’s residents, who witness sporadic but regular missile attacks from Gaza whenever conflict escalates between Israel and Hamas.

“You hate your children!” a Sderot resident is seen shouting at the Meretz MPs in the video. “You should be embarrassed! You are worse than an Arab! You are like Hamas! Shame!”

“Leftists are garbage,” remarked another resident.

Police officers were on hand to ensure that the altercation did not escalate further.

Flames rise after a rocket attack in Sderot, near the Israeli side of the Israel-Gaza frontier. (Reuters)

Civilian warnings before strikes must end, Israel general says

A top general in the reserves called Tuesday for the Israeli army to end its policy of exploding smaller bombs on buildings it intends to completely level, in order to give its inhabitants some seconds or minutes to escape with their lives.

In an op-ed published on the website of far-right Israel Channel 7, Major General Amos Yadlin called on the Israeli government to end the army’s policy of “knocking on roofs”, so as not to give the Hamas leaders it targets the opportunity to escape with their lives and their health intact.

“During war, you don’t inform the enemy in advance so that they can get out of their bunker,” Yadlin writes.

“We must act to prevent harm to uninvolved people as much as possible, but during war there will be such casualties, and their blood lies on the Hamas leaders who use them as human shields.”

Only with harsh measures such as these will Israel be able to regain its deterrent power, a prerequisite for ultimately ending the ongoing fighting, Yadlin argues.

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