Benny Gantz
Benny GantzYoni Kempinski

Benny Gantz, a prominent figure in Israeli defense circles and a member of the War Cabinet, has made several controversial decisions throughout his career as both Chief of Staff and Minister of Defense. These decisions have had lasting impacts on the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Israel’s strategic military posture.

During his tenure as Chief of Staff (2011-2015), Gantz made significant cuts to the IDF’s armored and mechanized capabilities. He closed six divisions and four armored brigades, citing necessary budget constraints. This decision was met with mixed reactions; while some praised the move for its fiscal responsibility, others criticized it for potentially weakening Israel’s ground force capabilities. Additionally, Gantz cut 600 tanks from the IDF’s inventory and, later as Minister of Defense, approved a further reduction of 500 tanks. These reductions were part of a significant shift in Israel’s defense strategy.

Simultaneously, Gantz advocated for increasing the pensions of senior IDF retirees. This move was controversial, as it juxtaposed the reduction of active combat units with benefits for retired personnel, raising questions about the prioritization of resources within the military budget.

Gantz’s tenure also saw decisions regarding international military aid. As Chief of Staff, he approved the donation of a Cobra helicopter squadron to Jordan, a move aimed at strengthening regional alliances and counterterrorism efforts. This decision was supported by then Minister of Defense, Bogie Ya’alon, and was seen as a strategic gesture to bolster Jordan’s capabilities in a volatile region.

Gantz also faced ethical dilemmas during his military career, particularly regarding the protection of non-combatants. It was claimed he said he was proud of risking the lives of Golani fighters to prevent harm to civilian Palestinian Arabs.

One of the most contentious aspects of Gantz’s career was his role during Operation Protective Edge. As Chief of Staff, he attempted to downplay the strategic importance of Hamas tunnels. He also prevented Major General Sami Turgeman, then Southern Command Chief, from discussing the tunnel threat in Cabinet meetings. This decision has been heavily scrutinized, with critics arguing that it underestimated a critical aspect of Hamas’ military capabilities and potentially compromised Israel’s operational effectiveness.

As Minister of Defense, Gantz approved the transfer of significant amounts of US-stored ammunition from Israel to Ukraine. This transfer, intended to support Ukraine amidst its conflict with Russia, was executed without securing a replacement supply. Consequently, this led to an ammunition shortage for the IDF at the onset of the current war, and is part of the reason for dependency on the United States for replenishment. (Another reason is that local arms production was reduced).

Gantz’s influence extended to key military appointments. He controversially pushed for the appointment of Hertzi Halevi as Chief of Staff just a week before elections. This move was justified by a document submitted to the Supreme Court, citing a “serious security situation” as the reason for urgency. The timing and manner of this appointment raised concerns about its propriety and the potential politicization of military leadership.

Additionally, Gantz appointed Aharon Haliva as head of the Operations Directorate, a critical position within the IDF. These appointments reflect Gantz’s efforts to shape the IDF’s leadership, though not without controversy regarding the timing and motivations behind these decisions.

One of Gantz’s notable decisions was appointing Major General Yaron Finkelman as Southern Command Chief, favoring him over the more experienced, victory-oriented and talented kippah-wearing Brigadier General Ofer Winter. This decision was controversial, as many believed Winter’s extensive experience and capabilities would better serve the Southern Command. (Winter has since left the IDF, making him eligible to be Defense Minister instead of Yoav Gallant, a much discussed topic in the rightist media, ed.)

During Gantz’s tenure as Minister of Defense, weapons were removed from readiness squads in settlements around the Gaza envelope. At that time, Hertzi Halevi was the Southern Command Chief. This decision raised significant concerns about the preparedness and defense capabilities of these vulnerable communities, especially given the constant threat posed by such terrorist groups in Gaza as Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The removal of weapons faced criticism for potentially compromising immediate defense readiness.

Gantz, alongside then Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, authorized the entry of 18,000 workers from Gaza into Israeli territory. This move was part of a broader policy aimed at easing economic pressures in Gaza and fostering stability through employment opportunities. However, it was controversial due to security concerns and the potential risks associated with allowing a significant number of Gazans into Israel. Critics argued that the policy could be exploited by terrorist groups such as Hamas.

In a contentious decision, Gantz, with the backing of the Supreme Court, permitted Hamas terrorists to reach the border fence. The decision sparked debate over the balance between legal considerations and stringent security measures to prevent infiltration and attacks.

Gantz’s tenure also saw him grappling with significant strategic threats. When then Southern Command Chief Eliezer Toledano revealed Hamas’s precise plans to infiltrate Israeli territory, there was a call for a preventative war against Hamas. Gantz chose not to respond to this demand, a decision that was heavily scrutinized.

A critical aspect of Gantz’s term was the halt in the operation of IDF observation balloons and drones aimed at Gaza. These surveillance tools were grounded due to poor maintenance and budgetary constraints, leading to a significant gap in real-time intelligence and surveillance capabilities. This operational lapse became evident on October 7th, when the lack of functional surveillance equipment was a glaring deficiency in monitoring and responding to planned terror activities in Gaza.

Benny Gantz, once hailed as a “statesman” and now rising in the polls among the Israeli electorate, is nothing more than a “singer in disguise.” This description aptly captures the essence of a politician whose speeches are meticulously crafted by his advisors and delivered with the precision of a teleprompter reader. Gantz, portrayed as a moderate figure, is in reality a left-wing polarizing figure whose actions and associations betray a deep-seated ideological bias that runs counter to Israel’s security and national interests.

Gantz’s meteoric rise in popularity is largely attributed to his carefully curated public persona. However, beneath this veneer of statesmanship lies a puppet-like figure, whose every move is orchestrated by a team of advisors. His speeches, often hailed for their eloquence and poise, are nothing more than scripted performances designed to project an image of leadership that does not truly exist. This facade is a dangerous illusion, masking the true nature of a politician deeply entrenched in leftist ideologies.

Gantz’s polarizing nature is evident in his actions and associations. His decision to invite Mahmoud Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, to his home is a glaring example. Abbas is a notorious Holocaust denier and a perpetual peace refuser, known for his role in funding Palestinian terrorist martyrs. His failure to condemn the horrific massacre of October 7th further cements his position as an antagonist to peace and security. By extending an olive branch to such a figure, Gantz reveals his true colors as a left-wing ideologue willing to compromise Israel’s security for the sake of political posturing.

Gantz’s appeal to the left-wing camp is undeniable. He is the embodiment of their hopes and aspirations, particularly in the eyes of the progressive Biden administration. For them, His willingness to engage with figures such as Abbas signals a dangerous shift towards appeasement and concessions, which only embolden Israel’s adversaries.

Moreover, Gantz was summoned to the White House in March of this year and while reports indicated that Biden senior staff upbraided him for how Israel was conducting the war in Gaza, the truth is they wanted affirmation from him that should be become Israel’s next leader, that he would play ball with them, take their directives and do their bidding. For what it’s worth, both Biden and Gantz have a common enemy and that of course is Netanyahu. Both men are committed to driving him out of office for the purpose of fulfilling their own personal agendas.

Despite his portrayal as a moderate, Gantz’s actions paint a different picture. His policies and decisions consistently align with far-left ideologies, undermining Israel’s strategic interests. The so-called “statesman” is, in reality, a political figure who prioritizes ideological purity over pragmatic solutions. His rise in the polls is a testament to the power of carefully crafted imagery and rhetoric, but it is crucial to look beyond the surface and recognize the dangers of his true political stance.

In sum, Benny Gantz’s tenure as Chief of Staff and Minister of Defense was marked by unwise strategic shifts, possibly unethical considerations, and controversial decisions.

Reposted with permission from The Jewish Voice. Fern Sidman is TJV's News editor and David Ben Hooren its founder and publisher.