Gaza after Gantz. Photo by Lefteris Pitarakis/AP
Shameless. In a nod to his country’s staggering depravity, Benny Gantz, former Israeli army chief, leader of the new Israel Resilience Party, and main political rival to Netanyahu ahead of April elections has released a series of new campaign ads in which he brags about the fabulous death and destruction he’s rained down on innocents. Using video-game-like sweeping aerials, lurid music and even an on-screen body-count, he celebrates bombing Gaza “back to the Stone Age” by killing over 2,200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, in the infamous 2014 assault he commanded. “6,231 targets destroyed!” the ad proudly proclaims as drone footage shows the devastation left behind. “1,364 terrorists killed!” Another video shows a kill-counter ticking up the bodies with Palestinian funerals in the background. The videos end with the chilling, Trump-like proclamation, “Israel before everything.”
Critics note the irony and horror of Gantz’ boasts. According to a UN investigation, the attack on Gaza killed 2,251 Palestinians, including 1,462 civilians, among them 551 children. Thus, fewer than 800, or a third, were combatants – not 1,364 as he brags. Those now-documented numbers could prove useful to human rights lawyers suing Gantz and another Israeli officer for the war crime of killing six members of a Palestinian-Dutch family. Most vitally, critics have recoiled from his grotesque celebrating of mass murder, with Ha’aretz pointedly asking, “What is he so proud of?” and Mondoweiss charging he represents just another “terrorist minister.” Gantz’ ads all boast, “Only the strong win,” a slogan widely seen as an echo of Netanyahu’s, “The weak crumble, are slaughtered and are erased from history while the strong, for good or for ill, survive.” In the case of today’s Israel, which posits the choice of a fascist or a fascist, it’s clearly, abhorrently for ill.