Israeli ministers trade barbs over Gaza

The Israeli defense and education ministers exchanged blows on Tuesday over the government’s policy toward the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett described Avigdor Lieberman’s policy toward the Palestinian territory as “weak”, calling for adopting a “right-wing” iron policy in dealing with Palestinian group Hamas, which rules Gaza.

“His policy is weak and leftist,” Bennett, the leader of the right-wing Jewish Home party, told the Israeli Broadcasting Authority.

“Hamas is becoming increasingly rude and the time has come for a right-wing iron policy “he said.

Lieberman, for his part, denied the accusations, going on to accuse Bennett of telling lies.

“Bennett is completely lying,” he said. “I have always said that I do not believe in any arrangement with Hamas.”

“The minister of education does not speak a single word about education, and obviously, this does not interest him,” Lieberman added.

Gaza has been reeling under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007 when Hamas seized control of the seaside enclave from rival group Fatah.

Since March, more than 180 Palestinians have been killed and thousands more injured by Israeli army fire during anti-occupation protests along Gaza border.

Protesters demand the “right of return” to their homes in historical Palestine from which they were driven in 1948 to make way for the new state of Israel.

They also demand an end to Israel’s 11-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal enclave’s economy and deprived its two million inhabitants of basic commodities.

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