by Jeremy Sharon
Hat tip: Dr. Carolyn Tal
Blue and White leader abandons Knesset debate before hearing Defense Minister Naftali Bennett respond, who accuses Gantz, Yaalon of failure to deal with tunnels and rockets.
Benny Gantz at the Knesset, February 20, 2020
(photo credit: KNESSET PRESS SERVICE/ADINA VALMAN)
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz together with the rest of his MKs abandoned a Knesset debate on Gaza which the party initiated on Monday, before Defense Minister Naftali Bennett had a chance to respond to the accusations levelled against the government.
Following Gantz’s remarks, every Blue and White MK stood up an exited the Knesset plenum to the initial surprise and subsequent scorn of Bennett and other coalition MKs, who accused the party of lacking the courage to hear his rebuttal.
During the debate itself, Gantz, together with Labor leader MK Amir Peretz and Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz, denounced the government for its failure to restore quiet in southern Israel and the Gaza border region and its failure to bring about long-term calm in the region.
But citing the absence of the overwhelming majority of coalition MKs at the debate, Gantz said he and his party would leave the Knesset and travel to the Gaza border region to meet with officials and members of the public there.
“While we sit here, thousands of children in the south are in trauma every time they see a balloon,” said Gantz during his speech, in reference to the balloons and other lighter-than-air objects laden with explosives which terrorists from Gaza send over the border into Israel.
“[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu, in recent years you turned have turned the Gaza border region into the region captive to Gaza, and every day and every night the border region is held captive to Gaza,” accused Gantz.
“The children of southern Israel can only dream of quiet while you are getting more and more disconnected from reality… because the Red Alert [rocket warnings] doesn’t really bother you…
“The residents of the south bore you. You don’t even bother to go and meet with the heads of the local authorities which get hit incessantly, unless they are from the Likud party.”
Horowitz in his speech said that Bennett and Netanyahu were “scared” to admit that “there is no military solution alone to Gaza, there is no way to stop balloons and missiles just through power. It hasn’t worked and it won’t work. Alongside deterrence the solution must include an accord and a diplomatic horizon.”
Following Blue and White’s walkout, Bennett denounced Gantz and his party from the plenum podium for disappearing from the debate, calling on them to show “a minimum amount of courage,” and hear his comments.
“Two people stand here, the architects of the failure to deal with the terror tunnels from Gaza to Israel, and now they’re running away,” said Bennett in reference to the terror tunnels which were discovered before the 2014 Protective Edge IDF operation in Gaza.
Bennett alleges Gantz and former defense minister and senior Blue and White MK Moshe Yaalon refused to destroy these tunnels before Protective Edge was launched.
“For fifty days you didn’t know how to deal with the tunnels and now you’re going to deal with balloons?” demanded the defense minister.
“The people who did not succeed in stopping 4,594 rockets on the residents of the Gaza border region dare to preach to me how to deal with balloons?, continued Bennett with ardour. “When I fought against you Boogie [Yaalon] and Gantz, you hesitated and stuttered and were confused and didn’t know what to do, and they fled and I dealt with it.”
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