Gantz: Israel lost its deterrence to Hamas

Downplays story of Iran hacking phone

March 15, 2019 17:24
2 minute read.
Blue and White Party Leader Benny Gantz speaks following the March 14 rocket launches, 2019.

Former IDF chief of staff and Blue and White Party Leader Benny Gantz speaks following the March 14 rocket launches towards central Israel, 2019.. (photo credit: YANIR COZIN / MAARIV)


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Blue and White candidate Benny Gantz accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of losing Israel’s deterrence to Hamas following rocket fire from the Gaza Strip at a press conference in the Gaza periphery on Friday.

“The security agenda is unfortunately being set not by Israel but by Yihya Sinwar and the heads of Hamas,” Gantz said. “Israel must return the initiative to its hands, with tougher policies that will make Hamas want to restore complete quiet.”  

He urged Irael to start taking more initiative against Hamas.

“Instead of quiet being met with quiet, attacks have been met with suicases of money,” Gantz complained. “Netanyahu must keep his promise and end his policies of hesitancy.”

Gantz took questions from journalists for the first time since entering politics on December 27. More than half the questions were about a report that Iranian intelligence had hacked into his phone and taken its contents.  

“Someone put out a delusional, gossipy, political story,” Gantz said.  “There have no threats and no extortion. There was nothing important on the phone. Someone has been feeding you political spin.”

When Gantz was asked about whether there was information on the phone about a relationship with a woman, Gantz, who is married, got angry and vigorously denied it, saying “the State of Israel is more important to me than this nonsense.”

Blue and White released a statement accusing Netanyahu of leaking the report about Gantz’s phone and then briefing reporters with lies.

The Prime Minister’s Office said Shin-Bet chief Nadav Argaman did not tell Netanyahu that Gantz’s phone had been hacked.

Gantz's press conference was broadcast with a 10-minute delay after the Likud appealed to the Central Elections Committee. A Netanyahu Likud speech last week had a similar delay.

Earlier Friday, New Right leader Naftali Bennett also attacked Netanyahu's Gaza policies.

"The Israeli response to the missile attacks on Tel Aviv is pathetic," Bennett said. "I have to tell the truth - I cannot imagine that after a mistake attack on Moscow, Putin would have explained to the Russians that the enemy “'did it by mistake.' I have some news – in order for missiles to be fired at Tel Aviv, someone has to set up a launcher, load the launcher, someone has to direct the launcher, and that someone who does all these things is simply not afraid of Israel, and this is the truth of it."

Bennett called for completely different policies.

"There can be no more excuses," he said. "I call on the prime minister to lead a strong campaign against Hamas, and if he does not know how to do it, to give someone else the defense portfolio so that we can finish the job."

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