World

MIDDLE EAST CRISIS UPDATE: 10 JUNE 2024

Benny Gantz quits Israeli government; At least 210 Palestinians killed in hostage rescue operation

Benny Gantz quits Israeli government; At least 210 Palestinians killed in hostage rescue operation
Benny Gantz, Israeli opposition leader, during a news conference after announcing he will leave the war cabinet in Ramat Gan, Israel, on Sunday, June 9, 2024. Gantz said he will leave the three-man war cabinet after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to present a new plan to bring back hostages and end Hamas rule in Gaza. (Photographer: Kobi Wolf/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Benny Gantz, who joined Israel’s ruling coalition to form an emergency wartime government following the 7 October attack by Hamas, said his party would leave the government after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to meet his demands.

Saturday’s rescue of four hostages from central Gaza, in which at least 210 Palestinians, including women and children died, was a cause for rare and intense celebration in Israel, boosting Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and the beleaguered military eight months into a punishing war. But it also highlighted operational limitations and a growing desire for a hostage deal, ultimately increasing pressure on the prime minister.

The US had resumed deliveries of humanitarian aid in Gaza after re-establishing a temporary pier, officials said.

Gantz quits Israeli government after PM fails to meet demands

Benny Gantz, who joined Israel’s ruling coalition to form an emergency wartime government following the 7 October attack by Hamas, said his party would leave the government after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to meet his demands.

While Gantz’s departure won’t cause the ruling coalition to collapse, it is likely to increase pressure on Netanyahu and leave him more reliant on his coalition partners. The prime minister and his allies control 64 out of the 120 seats in parliament.

Gantz said in a televised news conference that Netanyahu was preventing Israel from achieving “true victory” in its war against Hamas, saying that “fateful, strategic decisions are met with hesitancy and procrastination due to political considerations”.

He called for an election in autumn, as Israel marks the first anniversary of the attacks, “that will lead to a true unity government”.

Following Gantz’s resignation, far-right party leader Itamar Ben Gvir, who holds six seats in Netanyahu’s coalition, posted a letter on X demanding to be added to the war Cabinet in Gantz’s place.

“The time has come to make brave decisions, achieve real deterrence and bring security to the residents of Israel,” Ben Gvir wrote.

Netanyahu’s office had no immediate public comment.

Gantz postponed his announcement by a day after the Israeli military freed four hostages in an operation in central Gaza. More than 270 Palestinians were killed in the operation, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

In his speech, Gantz said the military campaign would last years and that he could not make “empty promises” guaranteeing an easy and quick victory.

He said a true victory puts “bringing home the hostage above political survival, combines military success with political and civil initiative”, and should involve replacing Hamas and establishing a regional alliance against Iran led by the US and the entire Western world.

Gantz said he supported the ceasefire deal approved by the war Cabinet and “whose principles were presented by US President Joe Biden.  I demand the prime minister to gather the necessary courage to stand behind it and do everything to promote it,” he said and promised to back such plan as an opposition leader.

Until his resignation, Gantz served on a three-member war Cabinet formed to direct the battle with Hamas. Three weeks ago he announced that he would leave the government by 8 June unless Netanyahu met a long list of demands which were not met.

Gantz had sought to bring in a coalition of Arabs, Palestinians, Americans and Europeans to manage civilian affairs in the coastal strip and return Israelis who’ve been evacuated from the north because of ongoing battles with Lebanon’s Hezbollah to their homes by September. He said Netanyahu needed to promote relations with Saudi Arabia and come up with an elusive plan for conscripting religious men.

Gantz, a former defence minister and former chief of the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, has been ahead of Netanyahu as a future prime minister in most polls held since the beginning of the war in October.

Hamas, considered a terrorist organisation by the US and European Union, attacked Israel on 7 October, killing 1,200 people and kidnapping another 250. Israel’s response — aimed at returning the hostages and uprooting Hamas as a military and political entity — has killed some 35,000 Palestinians, according to Hamas officials, who don’t distinguish between fighters and civilians.

Israelis find respite in rescue but war’s challenges endure

They danced in the streets and cheered on the beaches as TV anchors teared up on camera. Saturday’s rescue of four hostages, in which at least 210 Palestinians, including women and children died, from central Gaza was a cause for rare and intense celebration in Israel, boosting Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and the beleaguered military eight months into a punishing war.

But it also highlighted operational limitations and a growing desire for a hostage deal, ultimately increasing pressure on the prime minister. Military spokespersons said the conditions for such a rescue — the four had been held in buildings aboveground rather than in tunnels — don’t exist for the other 100-plus Israelis held by Hamas, and the way to bring them home was through negotiation.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators took their usual places outside the defence ministry in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, and while there have been competing messages at recent rallies — anti-government versus pro-hostage — this week’s slogans converged around one theme: get a deal and bring them home.

“Victory will only be felt by the Israeli people when the remaining hostages are returned,” said Avi Melamed, a former Israeli intelligence officer. “It levies pressure on Israel’s government to make a deal happen to bring those remaining captives home, the living to their families, and the deceased back to Israel for a proper burial.”

Top US officials were due in the region this week to push both Israel and Hamas to agree to a deal. Backed by Biden, the three-phase agreement would start with a six-week pause in fighting along with exchanges of hostages for Palestinian prisoners.

Talks have been stymied by disagreement over whether that phase could occur while negotiations over a permanent ceasefire take place — Israel’s desire — or, as Hamas wants, only if an end to the war is baked into the deal.

Although the rescue on Saturday reminded Israelis of a famous operation in Entebbe, Uganda, in 1976 to save a hijacked airliner in which Netanyahu’s brother died, it’s unlikely to change the hard calculus of the current war.

The rescue “proves the military’s mettle in all its glory when it comes to proactive operations that use high-quality intelligence and careful planning, operations that are placed under the responsibility of well-trained, task-oriented special forces”, said Nahum Barnea, a columnist for Yedioth Ahronoth, a centrist newspaper. “It is less good at ongoing, routine security.”

At least 210 Palestinians including women and children were killed in heavy fighting during Saturday’s operation, the Hamas-run health ministry said, adding to the already growing scrutiny on the toll of Israel’s counter-offensive.

The rescued hostages — a woman and three men — were in good health and had been transferred to an Israeli hospital for further checks, the military said. They were identified as Noa Argamani (25), Almog Meir Jan (21), Andrey Kozlov (27) and Shlomi Ziv (40).

They were rescued in raids on two different buildings in a residential neighbourhood, military spokesperson Daniel Hagari said. The operation had been in the planning for weeks and involved hundreds of soldiers and members of intelligence and police, backed by the Israeli air and naval forces, he added.

Asked about Palestinian civilian deaths in the operation, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Hamas should accept the ceasefire deal and thus end the threat. He said the US would continue to support hostage-rescue operations but he repeated US concerns about danger to civilians.

“We will also continue to reinforce the point that all of their military operations, including hostage rescue operations, should take every precaution to minimise the amount of civilian harm or civilian casualties,” he said on ABC’s This Week. “That is a point we will reinforce in all of our engagements with the Israelis going forward.”

On Sunday, newspapers and TV channels were blanketed with photos and videos of the four — a woman and three men — reunited with family and friends and taking calls from top officials. All had been abducted from a music festival on 7 October.

“It’s true that this operation somewhat restored our lost self-confidence and the belief in our abilities,” said Ben Caspit, a commentator with the centrist Maariv newspaper. “But make no mistake: on the day after this magical Saturday, the sun will rise from the same place and Israel’s strategic situation will also remain in the same place: stuck.”

US resumes deliveries of aid from repaired Gaza pier

The US had resumed deliveries of humanitarian aid in Gaza after re-establishing a temporary pier, officials said.

The deliveries were restarted at about 10.30am local time on 8 June, the US Central Command said in a post on X. About 492 tonnes of humanitarian assistance were dispatched to the people of Gaza, according to Centcom.

The temporary pier used to deliver the humanitarian assistance was damaged late last month, but Centcom said in an X post dated 7 June that the structure had been repaired.

Colombia to ban coal sales to Israel to seek war’s end

Colombia is set to ban coal exports to Israel in a bid to pressure the government of Netanyahu to end the conflict in Gaza.

The ministers of foreign affairs, finance, energy and trade decided to halt sales of the fuel to the Jewish state, according to a draft decree published on Friday on Colombia’s trade ministry’s website.

The Andean nation is Israel’s biggest supplier of the fossil fuel. The measure will take effect once President Gustavo Petro signs off on it, probably after he returns from a trip to Europe.

Israel’s relations have worsened with governments across Latin America this year. But, until now, this has mainly been expressed through diplomatic measures rather than trade sanctions. Colombia supplied Israel with about $450-million of coal last year. DM

Read more in Daily Maverick: Israel-Palestine War

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Malcolm McManus says:

    210 Palestinians killed for 4 hostages. Keeping these innocent civilians hostage really doesn’t seem to be sensible. Why doesn’t Hamas simply give them back and end this nightmare. There will always be collateral damage in a war. How many of the 210 where combatants.

    • Samar Samar says:

      As it’s not sensible to kill 35000 human beings for a 1000 Israelis.
      But then Israel is a satanic lunatic state after all..

      • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

        Really? we’re weighing the relative value of life now? If it was your child I would be interested to hear what value you would put the value “one”.

        My position is peace for all – and our race would all do well to learn from history.

    • Luke S says:

      It’s simple – they were kicked out of their land within living memory. The only leverage they have are the hostages, while as recently as late last week the occupiers said, again, that they won’t stop until the armed resistance is dead. Would you just give up the only card you have?

      • Malcolm McManus says:

        If they give up the only card they have, the game ends. The sooner the game ends, the more lives will be saved. Let this not continue until another 35000 lives (Militant or civilian) are gone. Israel is not going to give up Israel. The Palestinians need to deal with that reality.

        • Luke S says:

          Many Israeli leaders have bluntly said that they will continue regardless of the hostage situation. They have one goal, “eliminate” Hamas. The game doesn’t end with the hostages being released. The game ends when Netanyahu rids the region of non-Jews, or gives back at least some of their land.

        • Luke S says:

          … or perhaps, just like with Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, etc, our ‘friends’ across the pond like to perpetually keep the oil-rich areas in chaos (and poor and militarily weak)…

  • Mo Sheikh says:

    if they give back the hostages, no civilians will die on the Gaza side. Although the terrorists in Hamas will continue to do their best to kill Israeli civilians.

    • Luke S says:

      Netanyahu and others have said that they will continue to bomb Gaza until they is satisfied that Hamas is eliminated . How do you know that this will suddenly mean that he will stop killing civilians? Are you saying that he is killing civilians on purpose, to force them to give hostages back?

    • Luke S says:

      If they give back some land to the Palestinians, no Israeli civilians will die. Although the Israeli right-wingers and settlers will continue to do their best to kill Palestinians.

    • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

      Nice try Mo you are not fooling anyone, Palestinians die because of the occupation which deems them human animals period.

  • Troy Marshall says:

    The lives of Palestinian civilians have little value. Why should people care about those who don’t even “own” their own country?
    Disagree if you want; but the IDF, with the best of US weaponry, have been proving this true for decades.

  • Vic Mash says:

    The first known genocide was not recognised after whites invaded the Americas and killed all the native Americans (red Indians). The second is currently taking place where whites again are slaughtering Palestinians.

    • John P says:

      There were many others between those two events not least of which was the Holocaust.

    • Random Comment says:

      there are none so blind as those who will not see, Vic:

      How about some local examples: 1. Rwandan genocide; 2. Darfur Genocide; 3. Gukurahundi – Zim; 4. Burundi – ikiza; 5. DRC; 6. Zanzibar revolution ?

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted