Photo: Avihu Shapira
Gantz with Ya'alon. 'Chief of staff is expected to say something about ethical and urgent issues'
Photo: Avihu Shapira

Where is the IDF chief?

Op-ed: While condemnations over Yitzhar riots poured in from all across of political spectrum, there was no comment – again – from Chief of Staff Gantz.

An IDF post in the settlement of Yitzhar was completely destroyed on Tuesday, and helpless reservists surrendered to rioters.


On Monday evening the tires of their company jeep were slashed, and on Sunday it was the jeep of Shomron Brigade Commander Colonel Yoav Yarom that had its tires slashed at the same settlement, for the second time in three months.



Condemnations poured in from all across of the political spectrum, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to "show zero tolerance towards those targeting the IDF's soldiers and commanders," and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon went as far as calling it an act of terror in the fullest sense of the word. But IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, of all people, chose to keep silent.


And it's not that the No. 1 soldier is short of opportunities to support his subordinates. In the past week he has spoken at three official events: A ceremony for outstanding non-commissioned officers at the Israel Air Force base in Tel Nof on Sunday; a ceremony for outstanding officers at the same base Monday; and a well-attended event to welcome the new Shimshon military transport aircraft at the Nevatim base in southern Israel on Wednesday.


Even on Wednesday afternoon, when it was clear that the settlers had crossed another line, and although the defense minister standing next to him spoke about "criminal activity that is for all intents and purposes terrorism against commanders and soldiers working day and night to protect Israel's security and defend its citizens," the chief of staff failed to condemn the targeting of soldiers and commanders, or back them in the difficult situation they are facing. He did, however, see it fit to lavish praise on the Air Force and the company that manufactured the new plane, not to mention its American representatives who attended the ceremony.


Gantz' silence over recent events continued after he stepped down from the podium. The chief of staff's office has not issued a single official condemnation or statement of support for the IDF's soldiers.


This isn't the first time the chief of staff has chosen to keep mum on important issues. About two months ago, during the discussions on the IDF draft law, he blatantly avoided expressing his opinion about this dramatic social issue, which would have given him an opportunity to leave a real mark. Following the criticism levelled against him, Gantz faced up to his mistake and shared his thoughts on the matter, but by then the train had already left the station, and the IDF had lost the battle over recruits and the principle of equal sharing of the burden.


It's true that this chief of staff, unlike his predecessors, is not fond of conflict and prefers to end his term peacefully, in about 10 months. But he is still expected to say something about this most ethical and pressing issue.


The IDF Spokesperson's Office offered the following response: "The chief of staff has addressed the incident with the relevant officials and has clarified his stance in regards to the severity of the acts, while calling for firm and uncompromising action against the lawbreakers. The chief of staff gives the IDF's commanders and soldiers the full necessary backing in a direct manner. This is how he has acted on this occasion, and will continue to do so in the future."


פרסום ראשון: 04.10.14, 11:01
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