Education Minister Naftali Bennett went head-to-head with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot on Sunday afternoon over the military's reluctance to shoot incendiary balloon and kite fliers.
The Security Cabinet met Sunday to discuss the tensions on the Gaza border, with the discussion focusing on a response to the incendiary kites and balloons, which have been wreaking havoc in Israel, burning thousands of acres of farmland and wooded areas. While the Cabinet approved a new policy according which the IDF would open fire on any cells launching incendiary balloons and kites, Bennett disagreed with the nature and force of the response.
When discussing the fact children are often among the incendiary balloon and kite cells, Bennett wondered, "Why not shoot anyone who launches aerial weapons at our communities, and at the cells? There is no legal impediment. Why shoot next to them and not directly at them? These are terrorists for all intents and purposes."
The IDF chief responded, saying, "I don't think shooting teens and children—who are sometimes the ones launching the balloons and kites—is right."
"And what if it's an adult identified as an adult?" Bennett asked.
"Are you proposing to drop a bomb from a plane on incendiary balloon and kite cells?" Eisenkot asked.
When Bennett responded in the affirmative, the IDF chief said: "I disagree with you. It's against my operational and moral positions."
During the discussion, defense officials reported that Hamas was very surprised by the intensity of the IDF attacks over the weekend and begged for a ceasefire. They explained the IDF's policy regarding the incendiary balloons launchers is not to shoot to kill them, with the attacks carried out near launch sites in an effort to wound and deter.
Bennett was also criticial of the government's decision to accept the ceasefire with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza after an intense round of fighting on Saturday. "A ceasefire without stopping terrorism is surrender," he determined.
"For three months, we've been witnessing the fire terrorism, with some 1,000 explosive and incendiary balloons used against the Gaza border residents. Just in the past few days, the south's residents suffered some 200 rockets," Bennett lamented.
"In a timing that is convenient it, Hamas is dictating that we're now having a ceasefire. So let's make this clear: a ceasefire without stopping the fire terrorism is not deterrence, it's surrender," he stressed.
Bennett said he and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked would object in the Cabinet to "any ceasefire that allows Hamas to rearm itself and allows Hamas to continue launching fire balloons towards the south's residents."