Minister Strock: Gov’t has no right to throw war away to save hostages – Israel Politics

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Settlements and National Missions Minister Orit Strock complained that the government was “throwing the [war effort] in the trash to save 22 or 33” of the 133 hostages being held by in Gaza in an interview with Army Radio on Wednesday.

Strock insisted that his party “very much” wants to bring the hostages home, stressing that a deal like the one reportedly on the table would abandon the vast majority of the hostages still in Gaza.

“The government went out to war with a clear decision about the goals of the war, the goals of the war that were set by the government – and they’re in writing – include the dismantling and destruction of all of Hamas’s abilities in Gaza – military, governmental, and economic – the creation of circumstances in which the hostages can be freed, and the removal of any threat from Gaza against Israel in the long term. This deal turns its back on all three of these goals, including the creation of circumstances to bring the hostages home.”

Strock expressed concerns that the deal would result in large numbers of Gazans returning to northern Gaza and would prevent Israel from being able to restart the war effort after the ceased. She added that after a deal like the one on the table, the only “price” a future deal could include would be the end of the war.

Minister of Finance and Head of the Religious Zionist Party Bezalel Smotrich and Orit Strock, National Mission Minister at a faction meeting in the Jewish settlement of Givat Harel, in the West Bank, February 14, 2023. (credit: SRAYA DIAMANT/FLASH90)

“You essentially say, ‘I’ll be satisfied with 20, 33 hostages.’ “This is a reckless deal that turns its back on the goals of the war that their behalf, we sent out soldiers to battle, some of whom did not come back, and some of whom came back wounded,” said the minister.

When asked if the Religious Zionist Party would leave the government if such a deal is signed, Strock responded that “a government that sends people to battle, that issues call-ups for hundreds of thousands of soldiers who left everything behind and went out to fight for those goals that the government defined, that tells them ‘you know what? We’re throwing it all in the trash in order to save 22 or 33 people or who knows how many,’ such a government has absolutely no right to exist.”

Strock insisted that the Religious Zionist Party had given up on a lot of issues that are at the heart of their ideology as part of the war effort, pointing to the party’s support of the last hostage deal in November. The minister added that she believed that the first deal was “not a mistake,” saying that she did not feel it harmed the goals of the war, while the new deal would harm the goals of the war.

When asked if the party’s drop in election polls had anything to do with her position, Strock stressed that “I’m not interested in where I am in the polls; I’m interested where the State of Israel is in the war against the cruel enemy.”

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Strock sparks outrage

Strock’s comments sparked outrage on Wednesday, with several politicians and relatives of hosts responding to his remarks.

Minister-without-portfolio Chili Tropper condemned Strock’s comments, saying, “You can support the outline for the release of the hostages, and you can oppose it, but the basic Jewish commandment of ‘anyone who preserves a single life in Israel is regarded as if he has preserved an entire world’ he should spare us insensitive and blunt statements about the terrible suffering of the hostages and their families like the words of minister Orit Strock. The way of Judaism is much more humane and sensitive to human life than those who sometimes. seek to speak on its behalf.”

Shir Siegel, the daughter of Keith Siegel, who is being held hostage in Gaza, responded to Strock’s comments as well, telling 103FM, “It’s simply a disgrace, it’s contempt for human life at the highest levels. They don’t deserve to run the country – if they think eliminating another terrorist is more important than bringing my father back home alive, they should be ashamed.”

MK Matan Kahana wrote on X that Strock’s comments were “disconnected in such a deep way from the suffering of the hostages and their family members.”

Yesh Atid party responded to Strock as well, stating, “The government that is responsible for the greatest failure to the Jewish people since the Holocaust, with 1,300 dead and 133 Israelis who are still held captive on their watch, has no right to exist! Quit and go home. You are a shame to the country, to Zionism, and to religion.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Education Minister Yoav Kisch rejected the opposing complaints about hostage negotiations made by National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and minister-without-portfolio Benny Gantz.

He told Army Radio, “They are the ones who make these political spins, we have not moved from the goals of the war. None of the ministers who are nattering now are relevant to any decision that has been made and will be made – we do not need Ben-Gvir or Gantz to remind us of things.”

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