Israel’s defense minister resigns in protest over Gaza cease-fire

An Israeli woman inspects the damage in an apartment that was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon

Lieberman termed the ceasefire ending two days of intense fighting "surrender to terrorism", and said he could no longer serve a government that endorsed it. Lieberman had demanded a far stronger Israeli response to the most intense round of rocket fire against Israel since a 50-day war in 2014, but he appeared to have been overruled by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has abruptly resigned his post in protest over a ceasefire reached with Gaza militants, rocking the Israeli political scene and potentially bringing about early elections.

Announcing his decision in a news conference, which takes effect 48 hours after he puts it in writing, Lieberman deemed Tuesday's Egyptian-mediated deal with the Palestinian group Hamas "a capitulation to terror".

Palestinian militant groups including Hamas, which rules Gaza, issued a joint statement earlier announcing an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Israel.

Israel had launched a series of blistering air strikes against targets in Gaza after Hamas militants persisted in launching rockets at targets in Israel.

Lieberman's departure would probably also mean withdrawing his party from the ruling coalition with Netanyahu's center-right Likud.

"We are buying quiet in the short-term at the cost of severe damage to our security in the long-term", he said in his resignation announcement.

Palestinians spent Tuesday clearing away rubble, journalists staged a protest on fallen debris, and funerals were held for some of the seven Palestinians killed in an Israeli raid inside of the Gaza Strip on Sunday retaliating for a s where members of Hamas' military-wing killed one Israeli officer.

The operation was followed by the launching of some 400 rockets from Gaza into southern Israel, according to Israel's military, which says it intercepted about 100 of them with its Iron Dome defense system.

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Around 460 rockets and mortar rounds were fired at Israel, the most ever in such a brief time period, the army said.

Hamas calls the minister's resignation a "victory for Gaza".

Israel carried out major air strikes, with targets including Hamas´s Al-Aqsa TV station and internal security headquarters in Gaza City.

"Were I to stay in office, I would not be able to look southern residents in the eye", Lieberman said, referring to Israelis subjected to a surge in Palestinian rocket attacks before Tuesday's truce took hold.

The only person to die in Israel's border was a Palestinian man from the West Bank, who was killed in the city of Ashkelon. But the political fallout from the ceasefire agreement could be huge for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A defence hawk, he joined the government in May 2016 after Netanyahu forced out his previous defence minister, Moshe Yaalon.

Two of the deceased Palestinians were identified as members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine militant group and the third as a member of Islamic Jihad's armed wing. [Israel] must continue to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, and in the same breath signal to the terrorist organizations that Israel is not afraid of an escalation, even at the cost of terminating cease-fire efforts.

Before Sunday's raid, Egyptian and United Nations mediators had made progress in reducing tensions.

On Wednesday, a Palestinian was shot and captured by the Israeli military after being discovered hurling grenades across a perimeter fence. He also condemned the government's decision to send Qatari-bought fuel into Gaza.

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