Both sides of the political spectrum slammed the security cabinet's decision Wednesday to declare Hamas-controlled Gaza a "hostile entity."
"The Olmert-Barak government, elected on a platform of peaceful promises, seems in reality to specialize only in declarations of war," said Meretz MK Ran Cohen.
"The cabinet's statement contributes nothing to the security of residents of the Israeli communities near Gaza and only serves to push the residents of Gaza into the arms of terrorism, violence and despair," he said.
Meretz chairman MK Yossi Beilin called the decision "a foolish one that is also dangerous. Instead of dealing with the situation and trying to prevent its further deterioration, this decision only strengthens Hamas. It boosts despair, damages Israel's image and increases the chance for violence."
MK Zahava Gal-On, also of Meretz, said Israel must hold talks with Hamas to stop the rocket fire, adding that "semantic maneuvers cannot whitewash war crimes."
'We should have done this from the first Qassam'Meanwhile right-wing legislators called the decision inadequate and said it was merely lip service on the government's part.
"We continue to pay dearly for the hesitancy characteristic of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government," said MK Yuli Edelstein (Likud). He said the decision to wait before the next stage is implemented and Israel cuts back on the fuel and electricity it supplies is bizarre.
"This is something we should have done from the moment the first Qassam was fired," said Edelstein.
MK Israel Katz (Likud) said he expected the government to completely disengage from Gaza and its citizens, rescind the Oslo Accord clauses pertaining to it through legislation and declare the border an international one.
Katz also wants the government to announce a new security policy and order the IDF to respond with full force in retaliation for every rocket attack from Gaza, including the temporary or permanent evacuation of residents housing terrorists.
Israel should also declare Gaza a demilitarized zone and enforce this through its own actions or with the help of an international force, he said.
MK Zvi Hendel (National Union-NRP) said the move would do nothing to stop the rocket attacks against Israel's south.
"The goal must be an operation that will lead to the complete destruction of the terror infrastructure in Gaza. So long as the government continues to tie the IDF's hands on this matter, the catastrophic security situation is the government's fault," he said