Editorial

Gantz’s Stone Age

With all due respect to the war on terror, there is no justification for a video that celebrates a body count as if this were just some computer game

Benny Gantz attends a handover ceremony for the incoming Israeli Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi in Tel Aviv, Israel, January 15, 2019.
\ AMIR COHEN/ REUTERS

The campaign videos released at the start of the week by Hosen L'Yisrael  leader Benny Gantz are a display of crudeness and a source of disappointment for those who waited weeks to hear him speak.

Gantz’s first public declaration, that he would work to fix the nation-state law, was important and instilled hope in his potential voters. But this week, the man who was perceived to have the best chance of leading the center-left camp released videos expressing pride in the assassination of Hamas chief of staff Ahmed Ja’abari, and in bombing Gazan targets in which 1,364 terrorists were killed during Operation Protective Edge.

Under the slogan, “Only the strong wins,” the man who was IDF chief of staff during Protective Edge showed scenes of destruction from Gaza, as if reducing entire residential areas to rubble and striking civilian infrastructure are worthy aims and not the shocking and unfortunate side effects of a major offensive, even if he considered it necessary.

>> Fact-check: Did Netanyahu challenger Benny Gantz really kill 1,364 'terrorists' in Gaza?

Worse, the images Gantz used in a video entitled “6,231 targets were destroyed – parts of Gaza were sent back to the Stone Age” are taken from “Black Friday” in Rafiah near the end of the war; the accursed and bloody day following the abduction of the body of Lt. Hadar Goldin, when IDF forces implemented the most aggressive “Hannibal protocol” in its history. It was IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot who subsequently ordered the cancellation of the Hannibal directive, which permits soldiers’ lives to be endangered if necessary to prevent their abduction.

What is Gantz so proud of? Of the events of a day that Amnesty International defined as a war crime? True, the IDF investigated itself and after four years, reached the expected conclusion that no one was to blame. Yet according to the investigation’s findings, in addition to the 42 armed Palestinians who were killed that day, at least 70 Palestinian civilians were also apparently killed by IDF fire, and 170 to 200 structures were destroyed, most of them for agricultural use.

It’s hard to understand what Gantz was thinking. How can a decent person who seeks to become prime minister boast that the army under his leadership sent back to the Stone Age parts of Gaza, a place where 2 million people live in terrible conditions, a place known as “the world’s largest prison,” where there are severe shortages of electricity, water, infrastructure, medical services and food. With all due respect to the war on terror, there is no justification for a video that celebrates a body count as if this were just some computer game.

Perhaps Gantz has advisers who told him that this is the way to get more votes. That is a mistake. If Gantz wants the support of the center-left, he should remain faithful to the values of this camp, with human rights being paramount. This is the only correct and possible way to take on the aggressive right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu.