Israel's Lieberman voices concern of empowered Hamas

Minister Tzachi Hanegbi

Israel's defence minister, who favoured a much harsher response, resigned to protest the truce, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could soon be forced to call an early election.

Liberman had openly opposed a ceasefire reached with Gaza one day earlier that ended the worst 24 hours of fighting since the 2014 war, advocating instead for a harsher blow against Hamas, the militant group that controls the coastal enclave.

Demonstrators have been attending mass protests in Gaza since 30 March to demand the right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees whose families were displaced during the establishment of the state of Israel.

But there were conflicting reports of their discussion, with a source close to Bennett telling AFP the two had agreed that "it would be senseless to continue" with the same coalition.

"On Sunday, the date of the elections will be coordinated between the heads of the coalition parties".

The truce brokered by Egypt, with support from the United Nations, to contain the violence prompted the resignation of Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who demanded a large-scale operation in Gaza against the Islamist movement Hamas, which controls the strip.

Netanyahu held crunch talks on Friday with his other main right-wing rival, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, whose religious nationalist Jewish Home party has threatened also to quit unless he is given Lieberman's job.

Lieberman made the remarks on Friday - two days after resigning his post in protest against a Tuesday cease-fire between Israel and Hamas-led resistance factions.

According to the Gaza Ministry of Health, Israeli forces wounded at least 40 Palestinians, including three in risky condition, as of 5pm local time.

The Right-wing Jewish Home party called for the government to dissolve itself and being setting a date for elections after Mr Netanyahu refused to give them control of the defence ministry.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin echoed Hanegbi's analysis, explaining that: "All the coalition partners will have to make a decision early this week if they want to move ahead of the elections", Arutz Sheva reported.

The political crisis began with a botched Israeli undercover raid in Gaza on Sunday.

Palestinians inspect the remains of a vehicle that was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, Nov. 12, 2018.

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