Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman claimed Thursday that there was no diplomatic alternative to going to war in Gaza in the summer of 2014, saying that those who think Hamas can suddenly become pacifists are "delusional and detached from reality."
In a report on Operation Protective Edge released on Tuesday, State Comptroller Yosef Shapira reprimanded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for not bringing any alternative diplomatic options to the Security Cabinet ahead of the military operation.
Lieberman, who was the foreign minister and a member of the Security Cabinet at the time, rejected that claim.
"There was no diplomatic alternative," he insisted. "People keep thinking more can be done, another move, to throw (Hamas) another bone and everything would suddenly work itself out. They think Hamas will suddenly become pacifists, a kind of Peace Now, and not want to destroy us."
The only diplomatic alternative, according to Lieberman, "is primarily to raise awareness among the residents of Gaza that they are suffering because of the Hamas leadership. The second thing is that the Hamas leadership must understand it is always losing."
While the State Comptroller pointed to an unprepared, ill-informed and uneffective Security Cabinet during the war, Lieberman claimed he had done his part during the war in Gaza.
"As the Foreign Ministry, we got the government diplomatic credit for 51 days," Lieberman said. "In this, we definitely gave everything we had to give."
The defense minister asserted that while the IDF has already learned the necessary lessons from Operation Protective Edge, the State Comptroller's report "is serious, and we must read it closely and shouldn't reject it out of hand."
He came out against the "civil wars within Israel" over the operation and the report, saying that "the accusations, the internal wars, and the attempts to blame someone else all undermine state security."
"Lesson learning must be done within the cabinet, within the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, and within the defense establishment—not as a public argument," he added.
The comptroller determined that at least half of Hamas's offensive border-crossing tunnels remain and that the IDF did not accomplish its mission to neutralize the threat.
To this, Lieberman asserted that "there is a great effort. An investment of billions of shekels. There's this wall, this obstacle we're building" under the Gaza border to block tunnels.
The defense minister also addressed the 18-months sentence given to IDF soldier Elor Azaria, who was convicted of manslaughter after shooting dead a seriously wounded Palestinian terrorist who was lying on the ground.
The IDF, he said, should not appeal the lenient sentence. "The IDF does need to learn the lessons from every incident... but I would like to reiterate this. At the end of the day, We're talking about an outstanding soldier and a terrorist who came to kill soldiers. We shouldn't be confused."
Earlier this week, State Attorney Shai Nitzan announced that the preliminary investigation into suspicions of a conflict of interest in the purchase of submarines for the Israeli Navy has become a full-fledged criminal investigation.
Lieberman, who was part of the government at the time the deal was made but was not its defense minister, said he could not remember anyone in the cabinet objecting to the deal.
"The cabinet discussed several times whether, in principle, there is need for the submarines. I don't remember anyone, including the former defense minister, who spoke against the move itself," he said.