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Israeli Defence Minister Lieberman resigns, calls Gaza ceasefire ‘capitulation to terror’

Yiannis Kourtoglou, Reuters | Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman in Larnaca, Cyprus June 22, 2018.

Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced his resignation on Wednesday after a sharp disagreement over a Gaza ceasefire deal, throwing the government into turmoil.

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"What happened yesterday -- the truce combined with the process with Hamas -- is capitulating to terror. It has no other meaning," Lieberman told journalists.

"What we're doing now as a state is buying short-term quiet, with the price being severe long-term damage to national security."

The resignation came a day after Palestinian groups, including Hamas, announced an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Israel following the worst flare-up between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza since the 2014 war.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s presented the decision to step back from a full-blown conflict as a unified one made by his Security Cabinet and based on the military's recommendations. But his hardline ministers, Lieberman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, opposed the cessation of hostilities.

Fear, anger in Israel's Ashkelon amid latest Gaza flare-up

Announcing his resignation on Wednesday, Lieberman told journalists the ceasefire was buying short-term quiet, with the price being severe long-term damage to national security.

He later added: "We should agree on a date for elections as early as possible."

Lieberman also said his party was leaving Netanyahu's coalition, leaving the Israeli premier with only a one-seat majority in parliament.

Elections are not due until November 2019, but Lieberman's resignation increases the likelihood of an earlier vote.

Lieberman, a security hardliner, heads the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party, which holds five seats in the 120-seat Knesset, or parliament.

Israel shoots, captures Palestinian after ceasefire

Despite Tuesday's ceasefire announcement, the Israel military on Wednesday said it shot and captured a Palestinian who approached the Gaza perimeter fence and hurled grenades into Israel.

The IDF said it spotted the assailant with a knife and wire cutters and took him into custody after the grenades he hurled failed to explode.

Israel-Gaza tensions: Could Netanyahu be pushed to early elections?

The frontier was quiet overnight after the recent intensification in fighting which was sparked by an apparently botched Israeli intelligence raid into Gaza. Palestinian militants fired 460 rockets and mortars into Israel in a 24-hour period, while the Israeli military carried out airstrikes on 160 Gaza targets. Seven Palestinians, including five militants, were killed. In Israel, one person was killed in a rocket strike and three were critically wounded.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and AP)

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