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Israel's defense minister resigns in protest over Gaza cease-fire

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman speaks during a news conference at the Israeli Parliament on Wednesday in Jerusalem. Lieberman has resigned as Defense Minister of Israel in protest against the cease-fire Israel agreed to with Hamas following recent heavy rocket fire in Gaza Strip. (Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images)

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has resigned out of protest, following the country's cease-fire with Hamas in Gaza.

What are the details?

After two days of fighting sparked by the deaths of seven Palestinians and one Israeli soldier, Israel's cabinet agreed to a cease-fire on Tuesday, the BBC reported.

Two of the Palestinian casualties were reportedly farmers, and the other five were militants.

On Wednesday, Lieberman quit, slamming the government's decision to make the deal.

"What happened yesterday — the truce combined with the process with Hamas — is surrendering to terror. It has no other meaning," he said.

According to The Telegraph, Lieberman argued, "What we're doing now as a state is buying short-term quiet, with the price being severe long-term damage to national security."

Lieberman was a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling coalition. Amid the defense minister's departure, he is also withdrawing his Yisrael Beiteinu Party's five members of Parliament from supporting Netanyahu.

Prior to Lieberman stepping down, Netanyahu acknowledged that the truce would likely be met with pushback.

"I hear the voices of the residents of the south. Believe me, they are precious to me, their words penetrate my heart. 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," the prime minister said Tuesday.

"At these moments, leadership is not to do the easy thing; leadership is to do the right thing, even if it is difficult," Netanyahu added.

The Telegraph reported that Hamas sees Lieberman's resignation as a win for their side. The group issued a statement saying, "This is a political victory for Gaza, which caused this political earthquake within the occupation."

What caused the latest clashes?

On Sunday, a covert Israeli intelligence operation in Gaza went awry, leading to a gun battle resulting in the eight deaths. Among those killed were an Israeli lieutenant colonel and a Hamas commander whose "responsibilities included digging attack tunnels and firing rockets into Israel," the New York Times reported.

Israel responded to the gun battle with airstrikes, and both sides lobbed rockets at each other during two days of intense fighting. According to Fox News, the skirmish ended when militant groups in Gaza agreed to the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire on Tuesday.

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

Anything else?

Netanyahu now faces a reduced majority coalition in Parliament, which means that if more ministers drop their support of him, Israel could be forced into early elections.

One last thing…
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