Former Israeli Defense Forces chief turned political candidate Benny Gantz is touting the body count he racked up leading Operation Protective Edge with a campaign that boasts about bombing parts of Gaza “back to the Stone Age.”
Gantz has released a series of campaign ads for his “Hosen Le Yisrael” (Israel Resilience) party, glorifying the operation he oversaw as IDF commander as he attempts to replace Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister in April’s election.
“Parts of Gaza were returned to the stone ages,” one clip boasts over footage of the bombed-out shells of Palestinian buildings. As chief of general staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, Gantz led the offensive that bombarded Gaza for 51 days, killing – as the ad boasts – “1,364 terrorists” and bringing “3.5 years of quiet.”
The second ad in the series shows a running tally of deaths over scenes of Palestinian funerals, and a third shows the targeted assassination of a Hamas leader whose car explodes in a ball of flame.
Gantz, whose campaign slogan translates to “Israel Before Everything,” seems convinced that Israeli voters pick their leaders by evaluating their death-dealing prowess – though he may be onto something, as recent polls have him trailing Netanyahu by just ten points. Hosen le Yisrael would win less than half as many seats as Netanyahu’s Likud party if the elections were held today, according to that poll.
Palestinian and Israeli media have both taken issue with Gantz’s “terror” math. Using UN Human Rights Council figures, Electronic Intifada suggests that the ad tacitly admits that Gantz’s IDF targeted civilians, since less than 800 of those killed in Protective Edge were militants, while Haaretz notes that even the official Israeli military figures counts less than half of the Palestinian casualties as militants – meaning Gantz included close to 500 “uncategorized” casualties in his “terrorist” tally.
This accidental admission, EI points out, could help Palestinian-Dutch citizen Ismail Ziada in his lawsuit against Gantz – since Ziada’s suit alleges the bombing that killed his family was part of an official IDF policy to target civilian residences “in breach of international humanitarian law.”
“Only the strong win,” the videos proclaim, echoing Netanyahu’s own militaristic rhetoric – though a fourth campaign spot features shots of Gantz looking thoughtful and platitudes about “striving and working toward” peace, seemingly beamed in from a parallel universe or someone else’s campaign.