[News] Israeli General Mounts Challenge to Netanyahu by Flaunting Gaza Carnage
news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jan 28 12:08:48 EST 2019
Israeli General Mounts Challenge to Netanyahu by Flaunting Gaza
January 28, 2019 <http://www.palestinechronicle.com/2019/01/>
*By Jonathan Cook <http://www.palestinechronicle.com/writers/jonathan-cook>*
With April’s elections looming, Benjamin Netanyahu has good reason to
fear Benny Gantz, his former army chief. Gantz has launched a new party,
named Israeli Resilience, just as the net of corruption indictments is
closing around the prime minister.
Already, at this early stage of campaigning, some 31 percent of the
Israeli public prefers Gantz to head the next government over Netanyahu,
who is only months away from becoming the longest-serving leader in
Gantz is being feted as the new hope, a chance to change direction after
a series of governments under Netanyahu’s leadership have over the past
decade shifted Israel ever further to the right.
Like Israel’s former politician generals, from Yitzhak Rabin to Ehud
Barak and Ariel Sharon, Gantz is being portrayed – and portraying
himself – as a battle-hardened warrior, able to make peace from a
position of strength.
Before he had issued a single policy statement, polls showed him winning
15 of the 120 parliamentary seats, a welcome sign for those hoping that
a center-left coalition can triumph this time.
But the reality of what Gantz stands for – revealed this week in his
first election videos – is far from reassuring.
In 2014, he led Israel into its longest and most savage military
operation in living memory: 50 days in which the tiny coastal enclave of
Gaza was bombarded relentlessly.
By the end, one of the most densely populated areas on earth – its two
million inhabitants already trapped by a lengthy Israeli blockade – lay
in ruins. More than 2,200 Palestinians were killed in the onslaught, a
quarter of them children, while tens of thousands were left homeless.
The world watched, appalled. Investigations by human rights groups such
as Amnesty International concluded that Israel had committed war crimes.
One might have assumed that during the election campaign Gantz would
wish to draw a veil over this troubling period in his military career.
Not a bit of it.
One of his campaign videos soars over the rubble of Gaza, proudly
declaring that Gantz was responsible for destroying many thousands of
buildings. “Parts of Gaza have been returned to the Stone Age,” the
This is a reference to the Dahiya doctrine, a strategy devised by the
Israeli military command of which Gantz was a core member. The aim is to
lay waste to the modern infrastructure of Israel’s neighbors, forcing
survivors to eke out a bare existence rather than resist Israel. The
collective punishment inherent in the apocalyptic Dahiya doctrine is an
undoubted war crime.
More particularly, the video exults in the destruction of Rafah, a city
in Gaza that suffered the most intense bout of bombing after an Israeli
soldier was seized by Hamas. In minutes, Israel’s indiscriminate
bombardment killed at least 135 Palestinian civilians and wrecked a
According to investigations, Israel had invoked the Hannibal Procedure,
the code name for an order allowing the army to use any means to stop
one of its soldiers being taken. That includes killing civilians as
“collateral damage” and, more controversially for Israelis, the soldier
Gantz’s video flashes up a grand total of “1,364 terrorists killed”, in
return for “three-and-a-half years of quiet”. As Israel’s liberal
Haaretz daily observed, the video “celebrates a body count as if this
were just some computer game”.
But the casualty figure cited by Gantz exceeds even the Israel army’s
self-serving assessment – as well, of course, as dehumanizing those
“terrorists” fighting for their freedom.
A more impartial observer, Israeli human rights group B’Tselem,
estimates that the Palestinian fighters killed by Israel amounted to
765. By their reckoning, and that of other bodies such as the United
Nations, almost two-thirds of Gazans killed in Israel’s 2014 operation
Further, the “quiet” Gantz credits himself with was enjoyed chiefly by
In Gaza, Palestinians faced regular military attacks, a continuing siege
choking off essential supplies and destroying their export industries,
and a policy of executions by Israeli snipers firing on unarmed
demonstrators at the perimeter fence imprisoning the enclave.
Gantz’s campaign slogans “Only the Strong Wins” and “Israel Before
Everything” are telling. Everything, for Gantz, clearly includes human
It is shameful enough that he believes his track record of war crimes
will win over voters. But the same approach has been voiced by Israel’s
new military chief of staff.
Aviv Kochavi, nicknamed the Philosopher Officer for his university
studies, was inaugurated this month as the army’s latest head. In a
major speech, he promised to reinvent the fabled “most moral army in the
world” into a “deadly, efficient” one.
Destruction Footage for a Campaign Video https://t.co/KXMc4jWKbV via
— Palestine Chronicle (@PalestineChron) January 28, 2019
In Kochavi’s view, the rampaging military once overseen by Gantz needs
to step up its game. And he is a proven expert in destruction.
In the early stages of the Palestinian uprising that erupted in 2000,
the Israeli army struggled to find a way to crush Palestinian fighters
concealed in densely crowded cities under occupation.
Kochavi came up with an ingenious solution in Nablus, where he was
brigade commander. The army would invade a Palestinian home, then smash
through its walls, moving from house to house, burrowing through the
city unseen. Palestinian space was not only usurped but destroyed
Gantz, the former general hoping to lead the government, and Kochavi,
the general leading its army, are symptoms of just how complete the
militaristic logic that has overtaken Israel really is. An Israel
determined to become a modern-day Sparta.
Should he bring about Netanyahu’s downfall, Gantz, like his predecessor
politician-generals, will turn out to be a hollow peace-maker. He was
trained to understand only strength, zero-sum strategies, conquest and
destruction, not compassion or compromise.
More dangerously, Gantz’s glorification of his military past is likely
to reinforce in Israelis’ minds the need not for peace but for more of
the same: support for an ultranationalist right that bathes itself in an
ethnic supremacist philosophy and dismisses any recognition of the
Palestinians as human beings with rights.
/(A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.)/
/– Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism.
His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and
the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing
Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). He
contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Visit his website
//www.jonathan-cook.net/ <http://www.jonathan-cook.net/>/. /
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