Former IDF chiefs of staff Benny Gantz intensified his criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and made it personal at an event in which he revealed the joint Israel Resilience-Telem list Tuesday night at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds.
Gantz called Netanyahu “the ruler” and said he has ruled Israel for a decade using incitement, intimidation and fear. He said Netanyahu was now worried, because he is facing a new ruling party.
“The singular ruler is stressed, fearful and sweaty,” Gantz said. “His courtyard clowns are no longer laughing and his party is panicking. For the first time in a decade, the ruler and his henchmen understand that this time, a new national party is competing with them.”
Gantz then attacked Netanyahu for the time he spent in the United States representing Israel as a diplomat and public speaker.
“When I lay in muddy foxholes with my soldiers on frozen winter nights, you, Benjamin Netanyahu, left Israel to improve your English and practice it at luxurious cocktail parties,” Gantz said. “On the days when I commanded the Shaldag combat unit in life-threatening operations on enemy soil, you, Benjamin Netanyahu, worked your way bravely and determinedly between makeup sessions in television studios. While I trained generations of commanders and fighters, you took acting lessons in a New York studio.”
Gantz continued that when he barely slept wearing his uniform and boots, Netanyahu met with suit designers in fitting rooms and “returned safely” to his hotel.
“In a month and a half, we will all choose between a ruler who has English from Boston, heavy makeup, and luxury suits – and an Israeli leadership which is real, caring, authentic and not phony,” Gantz said.
He summarized the election by saying that “Israel must choose: either Bibi [Netanyahu] before all – or Israel before all.”
Netanyahu reacted by saying “Gantz should be ashamed of himself,” and reminded Israelis that he risked his life and nearly lost it during his IDF service.
Likud Knesset candidate Uzi Dayan, who was Netanyahu’s commander in the elite Sayeret Matkal unit, confirmed that he fought in dangerous operations across enemy lines, including in Syria and Egypt. He singled out an operation under fire in the Suez Canal and helping take over a hijacked Sabena airliner.
“I call upon you to apologize already tonight,” Dayan said.
Speaking prior to Gantz, former IDF chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon, who heads the Telem party and is second on the Israel Resilience-Telem list accused Netanyahu of misusing the Defense portfolio that he once held for political gain.
“Netanyahu lost the moral right to lead the country,” Ya’alon said.