Skip to main content

Settlers blame Israeli defense minister for growing West Bank insecurity

Defense Minister Benny Gantz is caught between his efforts to establish good relations with the Palestinian leadership, and the wrath of the settlers following insecurity escalation.
Israeli Minister of Defense Benny Gantz speaks at the start of a Blue and White party meeting, Jerusalem, June 27, 2022.

With tensions growing in the West Bank, Defense Minister Benny Gantz has been targeted by the settlers. They are demanding that the government launch an actual military operation to prevent any further escalation in the territories.

Over the last few weeks, not a day has gone by without some violent incident or other targeting the Jewish settlers of the West Bank or the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Some of these incidents have even involved firearms.

As defense minister, Gantz finds himself caught in the eye of the storm. He is coming under intense pressure from the settlers, who are using the Nov. 1 election as leverage to force the government — and especially Gantz — to act.

As head of a party with a strong right-wing orientation — the Blue and White party — the pressure being placed on Gantz has the potential to impact his performance in the polls. His party includes two ministers who were former members of the Likud — Gideon Saar and Ze’ev Elkin — who share a similar ideology with that party. They have strong ties with the settlers, and have succeeded in winning support from some right-wing voters. In an election in which every vote counts, Gantz could lose their support from these voters, thereby weakening his position.

In fact, it is already happening. The leaders of the settler movement are taking advantage of Gantz’s Achilles’ heel to coerce him to lead the forces in government calling for significant action against West Bank terrorist groups.

On Oct. 3, settler leaders held a press conference outside Gantz’s home, announcing that several West Bank municipalities would be holding protest strikes. They blamed the government of preventing the IDF from acting against rock throwers and even against shooters. A second demonstration in front of Gantz’s home took place Oct. 6.

In the past few days, settlers repeatedly blocked the entrances and exits to Nablus, arguing that since the government is failing to stop terrorism, they have no choice but to defend their residents themselves.

Gantz finds himself in a sensitive situation. On the one hand, he is believed to be the member of the Cabinet with the closest ties to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. The two men speak and even meet regularly. Gantz takes pride in his good relationship with the Palestinian leader, claiming that it is intended to maintain calm in the territories. The problem is that while this may have been true several months ago, it no longer is. The relationship between Gantz and Abbas and the direct line of communication between the two men is failing to prevent a wave of terror, which is taking a toll on the day-to-day life of the settlers. While Prime Minister Yair Lapid and the other members of the Cabinet have managed to avoid the settlers’ wrath, Gantz is subjected to most of their ire.

Just a few hours before the start of Yom Kippur, Gantz attended a situation briefing in the Central Command. The chief of staff and the director of the Shin Bet were also present at the brief.

He reported on the briefing on his Twitter account, and included a photo from the visit. In his post, he wrote that the security forces are stationed everywhere to protect the local residents. He then resorted to especially threatening language, saying that Israel is targeting “anyone who plans to commit a shooting attack, leading to the death of Israeli citizens.”

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in

Israel Briefing Israel Briefing

Israel Briefing

Top Israel stories in your inbox each week

Trend Reports

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (4th R) attends a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping (3rd L) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on February 22, 2019. (Photo by HOW HWEE YOUNG / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read HOW HWEE YOUNG/AFP via Getty Images)

From roads to routers: The future of China-Middle East connectivity

A general view shows the solar plant in Uyayna, north of Riyadh, on March 29, 2018. - On March 27, Saudi announced a deal with Japan's SoftBank to build the world's biggest solar plant. (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE / AFP) (Photo credit should read FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

Regulations on Middle East renewable energy industry starting to take shape

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial