Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was publicly challenged about post-war plans for the Gaza Strip on Wednesday by his own defense chief, who vowed to oppose any long-term military rule by Israel over the ravaged Palestinian enclave.

The televised statement by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant marked the most vocal dissent from within Israel's top echelon against Netanyahu during a multi-front conflict that has set off political fissures at home and abroad.

Netanyahu hinted, in a riposte that did not explicitly name Gallant, that the retired admiral was making "excuses" for not yet having destroyed Hamas in a conflict now in its eighth month.