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Israel’s defense minister quits amid Gaza escalation

For Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision favoring a cease-fire with Hamas was the last straw in a series of policies he could not accept.
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Before Avigdor Liberman even stepped into the defense minister’s shoes in May 2016, he announced that if he were to receive the Defense Ministry, the first thing he’d do would be to inform Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh that he has 48 hours to return the bodies of the slain Israelis as well as the live Israeli citizens held in Gaza. If not, then he — Liberman — would issue an order for Haniyeh’s elimination. But on Nov. 14, it was Haniyeh who had the last laugh. It’s been two and a half years since Liberman received the Defense Ministry, and Haniyeh is alive and kicking while Liberman has just quit his job. He made the official announcement at a press conference that day. This was on the background of the military confrontation this week between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Hamas, which Liberman himself qualified as “weakness.”

Hamas hurried to publish a merry victory announcement after Liberman’s resignation, despite the fact that they absorbed quite a few strikes from Israel’s air force in recent days. That’s how it goes in the Middle East: Everything’s topsy-turvy and nothing ever really ends. An alert Hamas man in Khan Yunis detected a small, covert IDF unit doing its thing deep in the Gaza Strip, and this caused a chain reaction that led to the resignation of Israel’s defense minister. One minute Israel and Hamas were a handsbreadth away from an arrangement and a graduated end to the violence, and the next minute a military confrontation erupts between them. Immediately afterward, Liberman returned his keys and resigned — all of this in four days.

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