Israel defence minister urges early elections after resigning


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

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday defended his decision to accept a ceasefire after the worst escalation with Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip since a 2014 war.

Lieberman said his resignation, which will go into effect 48 hours after he submits a formal letter to Netanyahu, also withdraws his far-right Israel Beitenu party from the coalition.

One man was killed in the rocket assault on Israel, while seven Palestinians were killed in retaliatory strikes on hundreds of militant sites across Gaza, said by the Israeli army to be "key assets" of Hamas's.

Seven Palestinians were killed in Gaza over the course of some 24 hours as Israeli strikes targeted militants and flattened buildings while sending fireballs and plumes of smoke into the sky.

On Wednesday, a Palestinian was shot and captured by the Israeli military after being discovered hurling grenades across a perimeter fence.

A diplomatic official said the cease-fire included an "understanding" to return to a 2014 cease-fire that promised some relief for Gaza in exchange for quiet. "But together with the heads of the security forces, I see the overall picture of Israel's security, which I can not share with the public", the prime minister said Tuesday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin 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.

Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour told reporters at U.N. headquarters that "we are grateful for the Egyptians who are mediating". "Other members who claim to be objective call for restraint on both sides". Some 26 other people were wounded in the Palestinian territory, according to Gaza's health ministry.

Sirens wailed in southern Israel as militants unleashed barrages of rocket and mortar fire, sending residents rushing to shelters.

Lieberman from the secularist right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party and Education Minister Naftali Bennett from the Orthodox Jewish religious Jewish Home party reportedly opposed to the Egypt-brokered cease-fire announced by Palestinians factions in the Security Cabinet meeting, saying they favored a stronger response.

"But in the security of Israel, more is hidden than known".

Israel says it has struck around 150 targets across the Palestinian enclave, including Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV building and an internal security building in Gaza City. "It's a shame. Instead of helping us and letting us live quietly, they let us suffer". I can not detail our plans for the future. "Leadership is sometimes to be criticized, when you know secret and sensitive things that you can not share with the citizens of Israel, and in this case the residents of the south, whom I love so much and appreciate", he added.

The latest round of violence began on Sunday with a botched Israeli special forces operation inside the Gaza Strip that turned deadly and prompted Hamas to vow revenge. Hamas and other militant groups responded with a wave of rocket attacks the following day.