'Benjamin Netanyahu wanted to postpone elections for a war in Gaza'

Two days earlier rocket fire interrupted his campaign speech in Ashdod.

By
September 18, 2019 00:59
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi. (photo credit: AMOS BEN-GERSHOM/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu almost ordered the IDF to go to war in the Gaza Strip, which would have postponed the general elections slated for Tuesday, Haaretz reported on Monday.

The newspaper reported that National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat had met with Central Elections Committee head Hana Melcer at the urging of Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit about a possible military operation.

According to the report, the action was aborted last Tuesday “at the last moment” by Mandelblit, who said that the plan required the approval of the security cabinet.

Following the publication of the report on Monday, Blue and White co-leader and former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz wrote on Twitter that: “Netanyahu did away with ambiguity for political ends. Now he’s lost it and wants to drag us into war to postpone the elections. This is a scenario that belongs [in the TV show] House of Cards, not in the State of Israel.”

Democratic Union candidate and former deputy chief of staff Yair Golan said Netanyahu did not decide based on security considerations but only on improving his position before the election.

“What led Netanyahu to consider a large-scale military operation, and what was the balance for a measured response? Was there a pure security judgment here, a personal insult, or a desire to improve positions before elections?” he tweeted.”We will probably never know, but to rely on the cynical way in which Netanyahu uses security issues to advance his personal survival campaign, an unbiased judgment based on security was not there.”

Netanyahu was assailed by political rivals and militants in Gaza last week over stopping his speech to seek shelter after there was rocket fire from the Hamas-run blockaded coastal enclave during a campaign speech in Ashdod.

Yamina No. 2 Naftali Bennett said that “a prime minister being taken off the stage in the middle of a speech because rockets are fired at him is a national humiliation. Hamas has stopped fearing Israel. Israel’s security will be restored by Hamas leaders being eliminated and not by press conferences.”

Two days after the rocket fire, which was believed to have been launched by Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Netanyahu warned that Israel may have no choice but to embark on a military operation in Gaza .

“We have a situation in which a terror group that launches rockets has taken over, and doesn’t rein in rogue factions even when it wants to,” Netanyahu said.


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