Full backing for government despite its damage to national security, Gantz says

Loss of deterrence due to government's 'extreme and irresponsible' conduct, Lapid charges

 MK Benny Gantz at a faction meeting of the National Unity Party on 09.01.22. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
MK Benny Gantz at a faction meeting of the National Unity Party on 09.01.22.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

The opposition stands united with the government on any responsible security responses to Thursday's rocket barrage from Lebanon, National Unity chairman and former defense minister MK Benny Gantz said in a live video statement on Thursday evening.

"Facing terror that threatens our citizens, facing shooting on the houses of our citizens, there is no coalition and opposition – we are all united around the IDF and all of the security organization," Gantz said.

The defense minister accused the current government of damaging Israel's resiliency and defense hierarchy and for deteriorating the country to an internal rift. He called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to convene a smaller forum than the National Security Cabinet that does not include "extreme" elements who lack experience and like to leak information to the press, presumably referring to National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir.

Gantz supports Gallant

Gantz also called on Netanyahu to announce that Defense Minister Yoav Gallant was returning as unconditional defense minister. The prime minister announced on March 26 that he was removing Gallant from his position after Gallant the night before warned against the damage that the schism over the government's judicial reform was causing Israel's national security. However, Gallant was not officially fired and the prime minister announced earlier this week that the decision regarding the defense minister would be delayed.

Gantz also called on Israel's friends in the world not to believe the narrative that Israel was attacking worshipers on the Temple Mount.

 Damage done by a rocket attack at a local bank in Shlomi, April 6, 2023. (credit: SETH J. FRANTZMAN) Damage done by a rocket attack at a local bank in Shlomi, April 6, 2023. (credit: SETH J. FRANTZMAN)

"Israel maintained and continues to maintain a freedom of worship and even increased recently the entry of worshipers to the site, but will not allow mosques to turn into nests of terror," he said.

Gantz noted that the uniting on security matters will come on behalf of the fight against the government's judicial reforms.

"We will not give up on our fight for democracy – and we will not give up on security," he said.

Opposition leader and Yesh Atid chairman MK Yair Lapid said in a video, "Israel today is at conflict on four fronts: the northern border, Gaza border area, Judea and Samaria and in Jerusalem."

"After we brought security and diplomatic quiet in the previous government, the current government's extreme and irresponsible conduct led to severe damage to deterrence."

"Our enemies are wrong in their assessment of our internal resilience. When it comes to security, in Israel there is no coalition and opposition. We will stand united against any enemy. The opposition will give the government full support for a harsh response by the IDF and security forces," Lapid wrote, adding that Israel should choose when and how to respond and not play into the hands of Israel's enemies who want an escalation during the month of Ramadan.

Liberman attacking Netanyahu

Yisrael Beytenu chairman MK Avigdor Liberman wrote on Twitter, "The writing was on the wall."

"In three months, Netanyahu dragged the State of Israel into an impossible situation. We were never so crumbled from within and isolated from without," Liberman wrote.

"Israel's deterrence and the weakness that the government is conveying brought our enemies to a planned and coordinated move. It is clear that there is full coordination between Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and the rest of the terror organizations," he claimed.

Liberman accused Netanyahu of dealing with issues of ego and settling the score with the defense minister, instead of convening the National Security Cabinet and focusing on keeping Israel safe.

"For all of this lawless and irresponsible conduct, when the day comes, he will need to provide some answers to a committee of investigation," Liberman concluded.