[News] Israeli General Mounts Challenge to Netanyahu by Flaunting Gaza Carnage

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Mon Jan 28 12:08:48 EST 2019


  Israeli General Mounts Challenge to Netanyahu by Flaunting Gaza
  Carnage (VIDEO)

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 
Israel’s history.

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 
video boasts.

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 
were civilians.

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.

    Benny #Gantz
    ‘Stole’ #Gaza
    Destruction Footage for a Campaign Video https://t.co/KXMc4jWKbV via
    pic.twitter.com/5BpNanBasQ <https://t.co/5BpNanBasQ>

    — 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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