JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the decision to reach a cease-fire with Gaza terror groups during his address at a state memorial ceremony for David Ben-Gurion, the country’s first prime minister.
“In normal times, a leader must be attentive to the hearts of the people, and our people are wise. But in times of crisis, when making critical decisions in the field of security, the public cannot always be a partner in the crucial considerations that must be concealed from the enemy,” Netanyahu said of his government’s decision to agree to the cease-fire, which was not unanimous.
“At these moments, leadership is not to do the easy thing; leadership is to do the right thing, even if it is difficult. Leadership is sometimes facing criticism when you know confidential and sensitive information that you cannot share with the citizens of Israel, and in this case with the residents of the south, whom I love and appreciate greatly.”
The cease-fire reached the day before followed 25 hours of bombing by Palestinian groups into southern Israel.
Following the announcement Tuesday evening of the cease-fire, residents of the southern city of Sderot protested the decision, some burning tires and blocking roads, and threatening to bring the protest to Tel Aviv, home of the Israel Defense Forces headquarters. On Wednesday, defense minister Avigdor Liberman resigned over the decision, calling it a “capitulation to terror.”
Netanyahu said that the Gaza terror groups begged for a cease-fire.
“I hear the voices of the residents of the south. Believe me, they are precious to me, their words penetrate my heart,” the prime minister said. “But together with the heads of the security forces, I see the overall picture of Israel’s security, which I cannot share with the public. I wish I could share with the citizens of Israel everything I know, but with the security of Israel, it is mostly hidden from view. Our enemies have pleaded for a cease-fire, and they know very well why.”
Referring to the memorial ceremony, Netanyahu said: “In times of crisis, Ben-Gurion made fateful decisions. Sometimes he did so against popular opinion, but in the course of time, these decisions proved to be correct.”