Israel politicians suspend election campaigns amid Gaza operation
Israeli politicians said Thursday they are suspending their election campaigns in light of the country's "Operation Pillar of Defense" which started a day ago in the Gaza Strip.
Members from both the left-wing Labor Party and the left-center Kadima Party said their representatives will be occupied with helping the residents of southern Israel, who are facing rocket barrages from Gaza.
The Israeli army's operation in Gaza started Wednesday afternoon, after the Israeli Air Force (IAF) hit the chief of the Hamas' military wing, Ahmed al-Jaabari, his son and other targets, including caches of long-range missiles.
In a statement, Labor Party Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich ordered to freeze the elections campaign.
"Our work regarding the elections has been suspended out of an understanding that since the citizens of southern Israel are under fire, it won't be appropriate to run an elections campaign," the statement read.
Members of the Kadima Party also said they are focusing their efforts on helping southern Israeli citizens, not elections; while activists from the party are trying to organize temporary residences for southern citizens in other places in Israel.
In addition, former prime minister Ehud Olmert, who is contemplating his return to politics, has deferred his announcement about his political future until the operation ends.
Many Israeli politicians on Wednesday expressed their support to the operation, in which the IAF raided over 100 targets in the strip, resulting in the deaths of 13 Palestinians. Meanwhile, it is reported that more than 132 rockets were fired into southern Israeli cities in the past 24 hours from Gaza.
"I congratulate on this operation and hope it will achieve what it strives for -- deterrence against Hamas in the long term," opposition leader Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) said on Wednesday.
"He (Al-Jaabari) did horrible things against the children and citizens of Israel," Mofaz told Army Radio, reminding he was involved in the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2006.
Yachimovich, meanwhile, said "al-Jaabari was the arch-terrorist of the extremist Hamas movement and he has blood of many Israelis on his hands."
However, there were left-wing politicians who objected to the operation, like members of the left-wing Meretz party.
Chairwoman of the Meretz party, Zehava Galon, told Army Radio that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are "pyromaniacs," who embarked on the operation for purpose of re-election, and adding that "assassinations are not the answer. "