Livni Says Critics Are Unfair to Army Chief Over Gaza Op.

Justice Minister says the responsibility for decisions on Gaza rests with government, not Chief of Staff.

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Gil Ronen,

Tzipi Livni
Tzipi Livni

Justice Minister and Security Cabinet member Tzipi Livni said Monday that the criticism being leveled at Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz - by unnamed Cabinet ministers, news reporters and residents of the Gaza Belt - is unfair.

"The Chief of Staff has been wronged,” she told Walla! news.

"I do not tend to hide behind anybody's back – whether he is wearing a uniform or not,” the minister explained. “My back is wide enough to stand behind the decisions I take... Nobody prevented me from asking for other options if I didn't like one option.”

"He has been wronged – as a person and as a chief of staff,” she continued, and stressed that the IDF presents options before the Cabinet, for the ministers to choose between.

Livni added that ministers' criticism of Gantz is emboldening Israel's enemies.

"On the day that I saw on the news that Cabinet ministers are complaining that the Chief of Staff or the IDF were not determined enough... It's not even a personal matter. This is the Israel Defense Force. The people looking at these statements are not just us in Israel. It's Hamas, Hezbollah... it's everyone. Is this what we need now, this atmosphere?”

Amit Segal, Channel 2 television's Knesset reporter, explained Sunday on Galei Israel Radio that Israel's leaders want to end Operation Protective Edge as soon as possible, without truly defeating Hamas.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and IDF Chief of Staff, said Segal, “do not really have a desire to reach a victory. At one point, they wanted deterrence instead of victory, and I'm not sure they want that either. They want to end the operation."

Segal citeג as proof of his theory a speech made by Gantz three weeks ago, in which he encouraged residents of southern Israel to go back to their homes, in anticipation of the success of Cairo ceasefire talks that had just begun. “The summer is hot here. The fall will follow it. The fields will become green, and a 'red south' in the positive sense of the word, of anemones and flowers and stability, will be here, and will remain for many years.”

The speech “made clear that Israel's top officer does not want to fight. As far as he is concerned, he has ended the operation, and this was done even as the Israeli delegation in Cairo tried to drive through a tough bargain,” noted Segal.

The justice minister and head of the Hatnua party said that Hamas “will not reap diplomatic fruit as a result of the fire” on Israel. “The principles according to which we operate: we have no problem with the things having to do with the people in Gaza, on the contrary. (On) humanitarian matters – we are generous... But we want to make sure that what goes in does not reach the terrorists. Not money, not concrete. A ceasefire for a limited time, if it does not involve a change, is less good in my view.”