“Sometimes, being a leader means fielding criticism when you know classified and sensitive things,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday amid political upheaval following the resignation of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Netanyahu was speaking at an official state memorial ceremony marking the 45th anniversary of the death of Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion.

Amid criticism against his government for agreeing to a ceasefire with Hamas after communities in southern Israel were pounded by Hamas’s rockets and shells (more than 450 of them), Netanyahu remarked: “I hear the voices of Israeli citizens and the residents of the Gaza area communities. They are dear to me, and their words touch my heart.”

The ceremony was held at Kibbutz Sde Boker, Ben-Gurion’s home and burial place. In attendance were President Reuven Rivlin, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot and other generals, as well as outgoing Police Commissioner Roni Alsheikh.

“I hear what is being said,” the prime minister continued, “and I can’t share [the information] with the public. I wish I could tell citizens everything I know.”

He added: “Leadership means not doing what’s easy, but rather doing what’s right and what must be done, even if it’s difficult. When it comes to Israel’s security, there’s more than meets the eye. Our enemies begged for a ceasefire and they know why. I can’t detail our plans for the future; we will determine what’s right for the security of Israel and its citizens.”

Netanyahu evoked Ben-Gurion, saying the Jewish state’s first prime minister also made unpopular, yet necessary decisions for the survival of the state.

“At critical times, Ben-Gurion made fateful decisions, sometimes running counter to broad public opinion. In time, these decisions proved to be correct,” he said.

“At times of calm, a leader needs to be attentive to the public’s sentiments,” he continued. “We have a smart public here. But at times of crisis, when making critical security decisions, the public often can’t be involved in the deciding considerations, as they must be concealed from the enemy at all costs.”

Rivlin also spoke at the event, saying, “I traveled [to southern Israel] to see with my own eyes the soldiers and residents in the Israeli communities outside Gaza. I won’t offer them strength because they are already as strong as they come.”

The president also recalled a recent meeting with relatives of Lt. Col. M., the senior IDF officer who died heroically when his commando team was unexpectedly detected during a clandestine operation in Gaza on Sunday.

“Their faith in the State of Israel, their affinity and devotion needs to serve as a compass and model to all of us,” he said.