Skip to main content

Netanyahu’s defense minister gets him into trouble

Another haphazard decision by Defense Minister Naftali Bennett reshuffled the deck for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and led to an escalation of tensions in the south.
(Left to Right) Israeli minister of Education Naftali Bennett and Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, the Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv and Chairman of Yad Vashem, participating in the March of the Living.  
On Monday, April 24, 2017, in Oswiecim, Poland. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The last thing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu needs now, one week before the March 2 election, is a new barrage of rocket fire from Gaza, regardless of which Palestinian group is behind it. All it would do is tarnish his image as “Mr. Security” and ruin his efforts to reach an arrangement, just when Israel is doing everything it can to avoid an armed conflict with Hamas. This includes sending the head of the Mossad to Qatar to convince them to continue providing financial aid to Hamas. In fact, Israel has gone so far as to grant 7,000 permits to Palestinians from Gaza, allowing them to work in Israel. What it all boils down to is another haphazard decision by Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, which reshuffled the deck for Netanyahu and led to an escalation of tensions in the south.

It began Feb. 23 with Palestinians documenting an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) bulldozer dragging the body of a Palestinian allegedly with Islamic Jihad along the border of the Gaza Strip, near the town of Khan Yunis. The IDF claims he and another terrorist were trying to plant a bomb alongside the border fence. The photo, which enraged the people of Gaza, showed young Palestinians trying to prevent the bulldozer from collecting the body. All in all, it looked like an immoral act of abuse by “the most moral army in the world.” Bennett responded with arrogance to this criticism, adopting Netanyahu’s old trick of blaming the left: “I’m fed up with the hypocritical criticism of the left over the ‘inhumanity’ of using a bulldozer to collect the body of a terrorist who tried to kill Israelis. To all you kind-hearted people out there, you’re the ones who are being inhumane! Hamas still has the bodies of [IDF soldiers] Hadar [Goldin] and Oron [Shaul].”

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 for annual access.