Avigdor Lieberman announces resignation in protest against Gaza ceasefire with Hamas, making early elections likely.
Hamas has described the resignation of Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman as a “political victory for Gaza” amid threats to an uneasy ceasefire.
The Palestinian group’s spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said on Wednesday that Lieberman’s resignation signalled a “recognition of defeat and failure to confront the Palestinian resistance”, adding “Gaza’s steadfastness sent a political shockwave” through Israel.
Lieberman said he was resigning in protest against an Egypt-brokered ceasefire reached with armed groups in Gaza.
The truce, announced on Tuesday by Hamas-led factions, was intended to end two days of Israeli aerial attacks on Gaza after a covert Israeli operation inside the strip, to which Palestinian factions responded with rocket fire.
At least 15 Palestinians and two Israelis were killed in two days in the worst violence the strip has seen in two years.
Lieberman had advocated for a more decisive blow to Hamas and quit in protest.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the truce saying the “leadership is doing the right thing”.
Lieberman’s resignation significantly weakens Netanyahu’s coalition government and appears to bring about an early election.
A Palestinian fisherman in Gaza was killed by the Israeli military firing on Wednesday after the ceasefire came into effect.
The fishermen’s union said the 20-year-old man was working on the beach near the land maritime fence separating Gaza from Israel when he was shot in the stomach.
The fisherman’s killing calls into question the fragile ceasefire that began in Gaza overnight.
“Should the occupation [Israel] stop its aggression and return to the ceasefire, understandings will be possible,” senior Hamas official Ismail Haniya said in a statement earlier on Wednesday.
But Palestinians in the strip, which has been under an Israeli blockade since 2007 and has experienced three Israeli wars since 2008, told Al Jazeera they don’t believe the ceasefire will hold.
A 34-year-old schoolteacher named Mohammed Baroud said he did not believe the truce would last “simply because Israel has never stuck to any agreement in the past”.