The Likud officials are concerned about the possibility of Gantz’s newly formed Israel Resilience party uniting with a center-left bloc that could endanger Netanyahu's reelection prospects, and are collecting compromising material on Gantz from his military past, especially information relating to his role as the chief of staff during 2014 Operation Protective Edge.
This attempt at a political targeted killing of Gantz by Likud's top echelons began back in November 2018, when Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev suggested that the former IDF chief of staff was responsible for the death of four-year-old Daniel Tregerman, who was killed by a mortar shell fired from Gaza during the 2014 Israel-Hamas war. Regev referred to a speech then-army chief Gantz gave in the midst of the war, later dubbed the "Anemone Speech,” when he called on the residents of the south to return to their homes and “go out to pick anemones.”
On Saturday, incoming Immigration Minister Yoav Galant—who recently quit the Kulanu party and is expected to run in the Likud primaries—joined Regev in attacking his former IDF comrade, suggesting in a speech that Gantz doesn’t have anything to say.
“I think he knows why he's silent,” said Galant. “Thousands of officers who served under our command also know why he stays silent. When you have nothing to say, you keep quiet.”
"The people of Israel need a different discourse, different leadership and statehood," said representatives of Gantz’s party in response.
Sources in the Likud party say the statements made by Regev and Galant are only the tip of the iceberg, as party activists are hard at work trying to destroy Gantz’s image as "Mr. Security"—considered to be his main political asset.
A senior Likud minister and close Netanyahu associate said recently in a private conversation that they were gathering information on Gantz even before he announced that he was entering politics. "We have sensitive material on Benny Gantz and we will find a way to get this information out to the public,” the source said.
The material in question appears to be Galant's knowledge of a specific and apparently embarrassing event that took place at the Kirya headquarters in Tel Aviv in the midst of the 2014 war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge. “We’re examining whether the facts about the incident could be publicized,” added the source, but didn’t provide any further details.
The outgoing construction minister in his speech also snuck in a jab at another former IDF chief, Moshe Ya'alon, who many speculate will form a political alliance with Gantz. “It’s a partnership between one who has no opinion and one who has no seats,” said Galant.