Defense Minister Gantz near the border with Gaza
Defense Minister Gantz near the border with GazaAriel Hermoni, Defense Ministry

In an interview on Wednesday, Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz discussed the evolving security situation around the Gaza perimeter as well as reports from Syria alleging that the IDF has been conducting raids into Syrian territory.

Speaking on Reshet Kan Bet, Gantz said: “We have changed our policy vis-à-vis Gaza, and now, nothing passes without a response – a response dictated by our own needs and considerations. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an incendiary balloon or a rocket – we respond to everything and we tolerate nothing.”

Gantz also touched on an attack attributed to Israel that occurred in Syria on Tuesday night, saying, “I’m not going to get into who fired on what last night. We’re simply not going to allow terror organizations such as Hezbollah or anyone else financed by Iran to install themselves on our border in the Golan Heights. We will do whatever is necessary to drive them away from there, and we are already acting determinedly toward that end.” When he was asked if that was what Israel was doing last night in Syria, Gantz merely replied, “Things are happening.”

The Defense Minister also sought to calm public fears, in light of a tunnel that has just been discovered leading from Gaza into Israel, saying: “I call on the residents of the South to continue with your daily lives. The IDF is protecting you. I have to be worried about what’s going on, but you can and should remain calm. Every single day I am busy ensuring the security of Israel on all fronts – whether in the North, the South, or in our battle against the coronavirus epidemic.”

Gantz also addressed the growing rift between his party and the Likud that threatens the unity of the coalition and seems increasingly likely to lead to national elections within coming months. The current focus is on the state budget, and Gantz said that, “All the resources of the Treasury and of the state’s apparatus should now be channeled into the 2021 budget and advancing it as fast as possible. I didn’t enter the government in order to serve as Netanyahu’s lackey – I entered the government in order to serve the citizens of Israel.”

Last Monday, for the first time, Gantz said that if the budget did not advance, his party would dissolve the government. In response, the Likud party stated that they are not willing to compromise and will agree to postpone approval of the budget by one week only.