Binyamin Netanyahu loses majority as Israel election looms

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Tuesday's ceasefire ended the heaviest fighting between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers since a 2014 war. Witnesses said others were wounded in stone-throwing incidents at the usual five protest locations.

Sources also reported that up to 1, 500 protesters took part in the mass protest, chanting "Netanyahu is weak in front of Hamas, Bibi resign, Lieberman is looking for a friend", and "Bibi resign, the south is burning", while using Netanyahu's nickname. Such acts have often triggered lethal Israeli army fire. Some 170 Palestinians, many of them unarmed, have been killed by Israeli fire.

Israel was quick to accept a truce after a botched Israeli operation in Gaza was met with a strong reaction from the Palestinian resistance in Gaza, killing an Israeli special operations officer and firing a record number of almost 500 rockets into Israel in a single day.

But Yisrael Hayom said Bennett was key to efforts to avoid an early election and could yet prove Netanyahu's political salvation.

Bennett had demanded the post of defense minister, after the incumbent, Avigdor Lieberman, resigned earlier this week in protest over Netanyahu's Gaza policies.

A source close to Bennett told Reuters that failure to reach an agreement could lead to early elections, as "there was a need to go to elections as soon as possible with no possibility of continuing the current government". He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing the content of a closed meeting.

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Reports said that the heads of the Israeli coalition will agree on a date to hold elections, Xinhua news agency reported.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will take up the daily responsibilities of the defence minister after Avigdor Lieberman's resignation on Wednesday.

Bennett, a senior official in the right-leaning Jewish Home party, threatened to leave Netanyahu's coalition if he is not appointed defense minister.

But the crisis may pose a new challenge for the Israeli leader, since it appears he is being led to call early elections, instead of calling them on his own.

Palestinians inspect the remains of a vehicle that was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, Nov. 12, 2018.

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