Israeli minister Gantz vows to quit because he has no post-war plan

image source, Good pictures

  • author, Christy Cooney
  • stock, BBC News

Israeli War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz has threatened to resign if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not come up with a post-war plan for the Gaza Strip.

Mr Gantz set a June 8 deadline for the plan to achieve six “strategic goals”, including ending Hamas rule in Gaza and establishing a multinational civilian administration in the territory.

“If you keep nationalism personal, you will find partners in the struggle,” he said. “But if you choose the path of fanatics and lead the whole nation into the abyss, we will be forced out of government.”

Mr Netanyahu dismissed the comments as “washed up words” that could mean “defeat for Israel”.

A growing political divide over the direction of the war comes as Israeli forces push deeper into Jabalia near Gaza City, an area previously claimed by the Israeli military as one of Gaza’s historic refugee camps, as fighting rages on both sides of the Gaza Strip. It eliminated Hamas militants.

Mr Gantz’s comments came days after another war cabinet member, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, urged Mr Netanyahu to state publicly that Israel has no plans to impose civilian and military rule in Gaza.

Mr Gallant said he had repeatedly raised the issue over several months with no response.

In a televised address on Saturday, Mr Gantz told Mr Netanyahu that “the people of Israel are watching you”.

“You have to choose between Zionism and cynicism, between unity and division, between responsibility and impiety, between success and disaster,” he said.

The six strategic goals he laid out include the return of all Israeli and foreign hostages still held by Hamas in Gaza and the return of displaced Palestinian civilians to northern Gaza by September 1.

He added that Israel should continue to try to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia as part of a “wider process of building an alliance with the free world and the West against Iran and its allies.”

Responding to the speech, Mr Netanyahu said meeting Mr Gantz’s demands would lead to “an end to the war and a defeat for Israel, the release of most of the hostages and the establishment of a Palestinian state leaving Hamas intact”.

Israel’s war cabinet was installed after Hamas attacked Israeli communities near Gaza on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking hostages.

Israel’s military operation against Hamas in Gaza killed 35,386 people, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

image caption, Israel is pushing tanks and troops into Jabalia, where Hamas says it is regrouping.

According to reports in Israeli media, the country’s army chief of staff, Herzi Halevi, has also privately stressed to Mr Netanyahu the need for a “one day later” strategy.

Mr Halevi is said to have argued that the lack of a diplomatic process to establish a ruling group other than Hamas would mean the military would be forced to launch repeated campaigns to keep the group at bay.

Mr Gantz proposed an American, European, Arab and Palestinian administration that could manage civil affairs in Gaza while laying the groundwork for a future alternative government.

He added that Israel could maintain a degree of “security control” in the meantime.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said they were fighting Palestinian armed groups in Jabalia. Palestinian doctors said 15 people were killed in the Israeli attack.

Hamas said Israel’s “brutal attacks” on Jabaliya killed dozens of civilians and wounded hundreds.

Late Saturday, Israel issued new evacuation orders for parts of northern Gaza after armed groups said they had fired rockets into Israel.

Israel carried out airstrikes and strikes on targets in East Rafah in southern Gaza on Saturday.

Last week, Israel launched operations in southern Gaza – where civilians had previously been told to leave elsewhere in Gaza – to enter the city to target the last strongholds of Hamas.

About 800,000 Palestinians have now fled Rafah and taken refuge in the devastated city of Khan Younis or along the coast, said Philip Lazzarini, head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

“Since the start of the war in Gaza, Palestinians have been forced to leave several times in search of safety that never existed,” he said.

“The claim that people in Gaza can move to ‘safe’ or ‘humanitarian’ areas is false. Every time, it puts civilian lives in grave danger.”

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