Israel’s new Chief of Staff Benny Gantz has outlined a new, even more brutal doctrine that could see Israel escalate the force it uses against peaceful protests. Gantz spoke before the Israeli parliament’s foreign affairs and security committee this week.
A report of Gantz’s comments was published on the Hebrew language website rotter.net and translated for The Electronic Intifada by Dena Shunra:
“The spectrum of the threats, in light of the changes in the Middle East, has broadened significantly – from daggers to nuclear weapons. There is a focal player in the Middle East – the street – and it is clear to us that in the coming months we can find ourselves in broad popular demonstrations, which gain public resonance. The IDF [Israeli army] is preparing for these demonstrations,” said Chief of Staff Benny Gantz yesterday, in his inaugural appearance before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee.
The Chief of Staff stressed that these threats, in addition to the new spectrum of threats, “requires a new, and more extensive budgetary framework for the Defense System.”
According to the Chief of Staff, “past threats are still active – but new threats are developing, which require the capacity to operate forcefully, emphatically, and decisively in several arenas, in our enemies’ short timetables. In the next confrontation we will have to shorten combat time inasmuch as possible. For this reason, we will act with great fire power and full force at the very beginning of the confrontation. Anything the camera can stand or could stand in the first three days of fighting – it will not be prepared to put up with thereafter,” he said.
The Chief of Staff referred to events in Syria and said that there is little likelihood that Assad would decide to turn his attention to Israel in order to deflect pressure from himself.
The Chief of Staff estimated that by the end of 2012, the construction of the fence along the border with Egypt would be completed, and would provide security by preventing the penetration of infiltrators and the smuggling of weapons. Gantz also said that the IDF is gearing up with alpha means, including demonstration-dispersing means, for future attempts to break through the state’s borders.”
Separately, Israel reportedly issued a “harsh warning” to Lebanon and Syria ahead of expected marches by Palestinian refugees and supporters from Lebanon and Syria toward Israeli-controlled frontiers on Sunday, 5 June, the anniversary of the beginning of the Six-Day War in which Israel carried out a surprise attack on Egypt and Syria and then occupied the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Syria’s Golan Heights and Egypt’s Sinai peninsula (from which Israel withdraw as part of its 1979 peace treat with Egypt). Israel’s Ynet news website reported:
Israel issued a harsh warning to Syria and Lebanon ahead of ‘Naksa Day’ - the 44th anniversary of the Six Day War. “We shall use all means to prevent an attack on our sovereignty. You will be held accountable,” the message said.
Israel is raising its alert level ahead of Sunday’s events, which may involve marches on Israel’s borders similar to those held on ‘Nakba Day.’
Israel has also informed the United Nations it will not tolerate any attack on its sovereignty
On 15 May, Nakba Day – the day Palestinians commemorate their 1947-48 ethnic cleansing from Palestine – tens of thousands of Palestinians and supporters marched toward Israeli-controlled frontiers and more than a dozen were shot dead.
Israel may be posturing in order to deter the marches as much as possible, however its unbroken record of violence against nonviolent protestors means the warnings must be taken seriously. It is notable that Israel describes all political action and protest in language better suited to a military threat.
Israel’s latest warnings that it will use military force against nonviolent protests also coincided with the first anniversary of the Israeli attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla which killed nine civilians on 31 May 2010. Israel, it would seem, like other regimes in the region, knows of no other way to respond to people demonstrating for their legitimate rights than to shoot at them.