Israel defence minister urges early elections after resigning

The escalation came after at least seven Palestinians were killed on Sunday in a covert Israeli operation

Lieberman strongly opposed the Israeli government's decision to agree a truce with Hamas, apparently arguing that Tel Aviv should take "harsh, decisive" actions against Gaza.

Liberman's resignation delivers a major blow to Israel's ruling coalition and appears likely to spark early elections. The opposition parties joined his call.

The one who expressed best what many Israelis are today feeling was Sharon Gal, a former Member of Knesset with the Yisrael Beiteinu party. Lieberman also called for early elections.

Lieberman said he would give Haniya 48 hours to hand over two detained Israeli civilians and the bodies of soldiers killed in the 2014 war "or you're dead".

The ceasefire was largely holding on Wednesday and schools and businesses in southern Israel reopened after no rocket attacks were reported overnight.

Palestinians stand next to an Israeli rocket that did not explode after an Israeli air strike, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip on November 13, 2018.

Netanyahu 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 Jewish Home, the party of Education Minister Naftali Bennett, was threatening to withdraw if he is not given the defence portfolio.

"In times of emergency, when making decisions crucial to security, the public can't always be privy to the considerations that must be hidden from the enemy", Mr Netanyahu said at a ceremony in honour of Israel's founding father David Ben-Gurion.

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"I see the big picture of Israeli security that I can not share with the public", he said.

Netanyahu claimed that Palestinian group Hamas "begged" for a cease-fire, saying "they know very well why". I can not detail our plans for the future. Some have speculated however that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be forced to veto this suggestion, which would lead him to take over the role himself.

But it did not address the deeper issues that pushed Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers towards their latest violence and left doubts about worldwide efforts to forge a broader truce agreement.

So while the cease-fire holds with Gaza, Netanyahu's government may not last the night.

Hamas vowed revenge after seven Palestinians, including a top Hamas commander, were killed.

The only person to die in Israel's border was a Palestinian man from the West Bank, who was killed in the city of Ashkelon. Netanyahu's apparent reluctance to launch a full-scale war reflected the lack of good choices at his disposal.

Netanyahu on Wednesday defended a cease-fire agreement with Palestinian resistance factions in the blockaded Gaza Strip.

The latest violence, which saw seven Gazans killed in 24 hours as the Israeli aerial bombardment flattened buildings and sent fireballs and plumes of smoke into the sky, was the worst between Israel and Palestine since a 2014 war.

Since March 30, thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have gathered at weekly protests along the Israeli border to demand a lifting of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade and an improved humanitarian situation.

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