Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) refused to retract his statement that the IDF must not apologize for killing terrorists.
At least seven terrorists from the Islamic Jihad and Hamas terrorist organizations, including a senior Islamic Jihad figure, were killed when the IDF destroyed a network of terror tunnels found near Khan Yunis in southern Gaza Monday afternoon. The destruction of the tunnels took place entirely on the Israeli side of the border with Gaza.
Bennett said that the destruction of the tunnels and the unplanned liquidation of the terrorists inside it conveyed a clear message: “Israel will not apologize for the killing of terrorists, and will do so to the extent which is necessary.
“The threat from Gaza only illustrates the danger of an Israeli withdrawal and therefore, during my visit to Washington next week, I will work to ensure that the Trump Administration does not set a Palestinian state as its goal in negotiations,” he added.
Bennett made the remarks during a meeting with Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner.
Earlier, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) criticized Bennett for his statements criticizing the IDF spokesperson’s office for its clarification that the IDF had not intended to eliminate any terrorists in the destruction of the tunnels Monday.
“This was a defensive action against a violation of [Israeli] sovereignty. The explosion was meant to destroy [the tunnel] and put it out of operation,” the IDF spokesperson said, and that the terrorists were not part of the plan.
Bennett appeared to rebuke the spokesperson for the seemingly apologetic tone of the response, arguing that Israel has every right to eliminate terrorists anywhere who are threatening its civilians and soldiers.
“The IDF succeeded yesterday in eliminating terrorists involved in digging tunnels to be used [in operations] to kill Israeli women and children,” Bennett said on Monday. “We must not apologize for eliminating terrorists.”
In response, Liberman called Bennett’s statements a “blatant attack on the IDF and its commanders.”
“An update from the IDF spokesperson must not serve as an excuse to blatantly attack the IDF and its commanders. Expressions of this nature manifest serious harm to the security of Israel and the entire IDF,” Liberman said.
“We will act with determination, power, and responsibility for the security of the citizens of Israel,” he emphasized.