Gantz: As PM, I Would Resume Targeted Killings in Gaza if Israel Is Attacked

Main Netanyahu contender says his role as army chief during 2014 Gaza war guaranteed relative calm along border for years

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
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Benny Gantz during a visit to Kibbutz Kfar Aza near the Israel-Gaza border, March 13, 2019.
Benny Gantz during a visit to Kibbutz Kfar Aza near the Israel-Gaza border, March 13, 2019.Credit: AMIR COHEN/רויטרס
Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz said on Wednesday that if he is elected prime minister, he would resume targeted killings in Gaza in the case of Israel being attacked. "If they attack us, we will pursue a tough policy, and if necessary, we will return to targeted killings," he said.

At a press conference convened as part of a tour of Israeli communities near the Gaza border, Gantz, who was the Israel Defense Forces chief of staff during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, took pride of the relative calm that followed the war. "For three and a half years after Protective Edge, there was absolute quiet. No rockets, no balloons, no kites," he said.

Gantz, who retired as the head of the army in 2015, went on to criticize the government: "Other than advancing a barrier [along the Gaza-Israel border], nothing has been done. We will change the lax policy and enact a tough policy. We will demand the return of [Israeli] prisoners and [Israeli] missing. We will advance assistance to the residents of the Strip without compromising security."

>> Read more: The most telling part of Gantz and Lapid's platform is what it doesn't say | Analysis

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Gantz also made reference to comments by Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the leader of the Hayamin Hehadash party, who this week said his party would seek to defeat Hamas and Israel's High Court of Justice.  "I see Hamas here behind us, which needs to be defeated, and not the High Court of Justice," Gantz said.

Speaking about followers of the late extreme right-wing Rabbi Meir Kahane who are running with the Otzma Yehudit faction in the Knesset election on April 9, Gantz added: "It's no wonder that in a government that adopts Kahanists, an education minister permits himself to incite against the state's most important institutions. This won't happen in my government."

At the beginning of the week, the Israel Air Force attacked several targets in the Gaza Strip in response to a rocket fire at Israeli territory the evening before. Among the targets in Gaza was a Hamas military complex in the northern Strip and two Hamas naval vessels. According to the Israeli army, Israel responded in part as a result of the launch of balloons with explosives from Gaza and attempts to damage Israeli defense infrastructure in the area.

A senior Hamas official told Haaretz over the weekend that the coming two weeks would be crucial in either coming to an agreement with Israel and restore quiet along the border or escalate violence between the two sides. Hamas' main aim, the official said, is a significant easing of the siege of Gaza. No change in Hamas policy could be anticipated as long as no agreement is reached, the official said. 

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