Benny Gantz, the former Israeli army chief, is bragging about how much killing and destruction he committed in Gaza in a series of campaign videos for his new political party posted on YouTube and social media over the weekend.
Gantz hopes to replace Benjamin Netanyahu as Israel’s prime minister in elections scheduled for April.
One of the videos, above, shows drone footage of a devastated neighborhood in Gaza in August 2014, following Israel’s 51-day assault on the territory.
The video’s title includes the words “Parts of Gaza were returned to the stone ages.”
Against the swell of dramatic music, captions on screen announce, “6,231 targets destroyed,” and “1,364 terrorists killed.”
The ad then claims that this carnage brought “3.5 years of quiet.”
A second video displays a kill-counter on screen racking up bodies until the number 1,364 is reached. In the background Palestinians are seen conducting funerals.
The video is another depraved celebration of killing.
All the videos contain the words “Only the strong win.”
And they close with Gantz’s campaign slogan “Israel before everything,” which could just as well be translated as the Trumpian “Israel first.”
Admission of war crimes
In fact, the 2014 attack on Gaza, which Gantz commanded, killed 2,251 Palestinians, including 1,462 civilians, among them 551 children, according to an independent investigation commissioned by the UN Human Rights Council.
More than 11,000 Palestinians, including 3,540 women and 3,436 children, were injured with almost 10 percent suffering permanent disabilities.
Thus according to the independent report, fewer than 800, or about a third of those killed, were combatants – far fewer than the 1,364 “terrorists” about whose killing Gantz brags.
This means that Gantz considers Palestinian civilians to be legitimate targets – effectively an admission to war crimes.
That is potentially useful information for the human rights lawyers who are suing Gantz and another top Israeli officer in a Dutch court for slaying six members of the family of Palestinian-Dutch citizen Ismail Ziada.
A key finding of the UN-commissioned report was that the mass destruction and killing inflicted by Israel, often amounting to war crimes, “may have constituted military tactics reflective of a broader policy, approved at least tacitly by decision-makers at the highest levels of the Government of Israel.”
The final video, after three others celebrating slaughter, presents Gantz as a statesman who hopes for “peace.”
According to opinion polls, Gantz’s brand new Hosen Le Yisrael (Israel Resilience) party stands to win about 13 of the 120 seats in Israel’s parliament.
Polling also shows that 31 percent of Israelis favor Gantz as prime minister compared with 42 percent who view Netanyahu as more suitable.
Netanyahu’s Likud Party is predicted to come out on top with about 31-32 seats.
Variation on a violent theme
Gantz’s campaign slogan “Only the strong win” is a variation on an infamous tweet from his main rival Netanyahu, who last summer declared that “The weak crumble, are slaughtered and are erased from history while the strong, for good or for ill, survive.”
Miko Peled, activist and author of The General’s Son, said of Gantz’s new ads that it would be “hard to imagine a more violent neo-fascist campaign than this one, by the new kid in Israel’s elections, war criminal general Benny Gantz.”
It is “all about death, destruction, power,” Peled added.
Indeed in that respect Gantz, like Netanyahu, is accurately reflecting the desires and fantasies of an Israeli public that views the willingness to shed the blood of defenseless Palestinians caged in ghettos after decades of expulsion and military occupation as the truest measure of leadership.