(November 15, 2018 / JNS) Israeli Minister for Regional Cooperation Tzachi Hanegbi sparked outrage throughout government leadership and in the general public on Thursday when he called Hamas’s recent barrage of more than 450 rockets on southern Israel “minor” because the attack wasn’t aimed at Tel Aviv.
“The attacks by Hamas were minor, most of the [rocket] fire was around the Gaza area,” Hanegbi told Army Radio in a morning interview. “Firing rockets at Tel Aviv is a different story.”
Social media quickly erupted with condemnation for his comments, and government ministers were fast to distance themselves.
“Hamas’s aggression is not ‘minor,’ and there is no distinction between Hamas fire against the residents of the south and fire against any other area of the State of Israel,” responded Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Tzachi, my friend, you are wrong, and your statement is inappropriate,” said Minister of Sports and Culture and fellow Likud Party member Miri Regev. “Gaza-adjacent areas and Tel Aviv are the same.”
She said “rocket fire endangering the safety and security of Israeli citizens must be met with an equally harsh response,” alluding to the ceasefire Netanyahu secured with Hamas, which she and many other ministers disapproved of, but which Netanyahu entered into without a vote.
Members of the opposition also took the opportunity to blast Netanyahu’s decision.
“It’s a moral outrage and a disgrace to security,” Yesh Atid Party leader Yair Lapid tweeted. “Gaza-area residents may be boring to Netanyahu, but they are citizens and they deserve to be protected from rockets.”
According to IDF reports, more than 450 rockets and mortar shells were launched into southern Israeli towns and communities on Monday and Tuesday—more than twice the rate of attack during the 2014 war. The Iron Dome missile-defense system intercepted about 100 of them, but dozens of rockets landed inside Israeli cities and towns.
One Arab man from Hebron was killed in Ashkelon, and dozens more people were injured, with severe property damage reported in some instances.