Gantz says he ordered IDF to prepare for event that may spark 'escalation'

In a far-reaching Ynet interview, the outgoing defense minister spoke about concerns with Smotrich's insistence to allocate several security-related authorities to himself, as well as his concern with incoming coalition in general

Moran Azulay, Yossi Yehoshua, Attila Somfalvi|
Outgoing Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Tuesday spoke about the ongoing security tensions in the West Bank, saying he has ordered the IDF troops to prepare for an event that may spark an "escalation."
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  • "I've instructed our security forces to take necessary steps to prepare for possible escalation in the West Bank and possibly Gaza," he told Ynet, while indicating that there is no specific threat at the moment he can point to.
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    Benny Gantz is the Ynet studio
    Benny Gantz is the Ynet studio
    Benny Gantz at the Ynet studio
    (Photo: Yariv Katz)
    He bemoaned the incoming coalition's intent to take apart Israel's security apparatus. "At a time when the IDF is operating in the West Bank and the Iranian issue is becoming more prominent, we are taking the system that is supposed to handle all of it and making it more complex, instead of having a cohesive command structure.
    "They are establishing a separate ministry within a ministry, with its own set of authorities and parameters, its own legal counseling and its own security forces."
    When asked if he was referring specifically to far-right lawmakers Bezalel Smotrich or Itamar Ben-Gvir, he replied, "Both."
    "Israel needs to fight terrorism at all costs, while at the same time taking care of Israeli settlements and making sure the Palestinian Authority is strong, since the alternative is more terrorist organizations.
    "I think Smotrich will go in there heavy-handed with authorities from the National Security Ministry, which will complicate matters further. Netanyahu is wrong to think he'll be able to control separate wings of Israel's security apparatus."
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    בצלאל סמוטריץ'
    בצלאל סמוטריץ'
    Bezalel Smotrich
    (Photo: Avi Mualem)
    Puzzled as to why Netanyahu was willing to give Smotrich this kind of authority to begin with, he said: "Does Smotrich have another government he can go to? It's unclear why Netanyahu is giving him so much. Something else is going on that we're not aware of."
    Gantz said IDF Chief-of-Staff Aviv Kochavi "will likely raise similar concerns" if the effectiveness of our security forces is compromised.
    The defense minister also had some spicy words for his successor in the emerging government, Moshe Galant, calling him "abrasive."
    "With Smotrich receiving several authorities normally entrusted to the Defense Minister, we'll effectively have two of them. It will compromise us, especially when you take into account Gaza, Lebanon and how the Americans fit into all of this."
    Gantz also ruled out serving under Netanyahu. "I will be an impediment to the legal objectives he has, so he wouldn't want me there anyway. Needless to say, if Israel is subjected to a substantial security threat, I will do whatever it takes to support necessary governmental steps to secure the homeland."
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    יאיר לפיד
    יאיר לפיד
    Yair Lapid
    (Photo: Amit Shaabi)
    He also dismissed the idea of reuniting with his former Blue & White co-chair, Yair Lapid. "We communicate frequently. Lapid will be the chairman of the Opposition. We each have our own agenda, and will serve as a synchronized Opposition."
    IDF Chief-of-Staff Gadi Eizenkot recently called to get a million people out into the street to protest the incoming government's policies. Gantz said he does not think his fellow former army chief was "out of line" since "the right to protest is vital to Israel."
    "It also wasn't out of line back in 2011 when a similar protest took place over the cost of living.
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    גדי איזנקוט
    גדי איזנקוט
    Gadi Eizenkot
    (Photo: Gilad Kavalerchick)
    Gantz reaffirmed that he will be traveling to Jerusalem later today in order to attend the outgoing Education Minister Yifat Biton's conference, where she is set to raise concerns on Noam faction leader, Avi Maoz, who has been given a key authority in the Education Ministry in the emerging government.
    "It's vital to examine what content is being taught in schools. You can't leave it to the most xenophobic and racist man in Israel to disassemble the Education Ministry. It's important that local school administrators exercise their authority to speak up about what is being taught, and it's a shame that Netanyahu won't take all of the Israeli society into account."
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