Addressing one of the most heated Knesset (Israeli parliament) sessions in recent memory, Defense Minister Ehud Barak reiterated his promise to widen the attacks on the Gaza Strip, saying the current situation amounts to “an all-out war against Hamas and its kind,” and promising to continue the war “to the bitter end.”
Repeating the claims of fellow cabinet members, Barak insisted that Hamas was to blame for “everything that happens” during the attack on the Gaza Strip. Rival MPs accused Barak of intentionally killing children, and MP Ahmed Tibi insisted the attacks were done purely for the benefit of Barak’s Labor Party, which was lagging in the polls before the attacks were launched. “Bodies for votes – this is done primarily by the Labor Party,” the Ra’am-Ta’al MP insisted.
Likud head and likely future Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the debate to lash out at those who protested the war, promising to “act with an iron fist” against any Arabs perceived as supporting Hamas during the attacks. Arab MP Muhammed Barakeh was kicked out of parliament for interrupting Netanyahu’s condemnation of “intolerable” opponents of the war. MP Taleb as-Saneh was also expelled after accusing Netanyahu of declaring war on Israeli Arabs. Outspoken Yisrael Beiteinu MP Avigdor Lieberman proposed that all Arabs in the Knesset should be sent to the Gaza Strip, never to return. Arab MPs replied that Lieberman should be sent back to Russia, his country of origin.