In keeping with the somber introspection of the Jewish high holiday of Yom Kippur, Israel’s top military officer went public last week with rare soul-searching accounts of the recent 50-day Gaza war.
In interviews marking the Oct. 4 fast, Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, Israel Defense Force (IDF) chief of staff, took heavy responsibility for the 73 Israelis killed — 67 soldiers and six civilians.
He called on Israel to support global efforts to rebuild Gaza and renew hope for its 1.8 million war-weary residents.
He glossed over criticism by politicians clamoring to wipe out Hamas and reconquer the coastal strip.
He conceded that Operation Protective Edge — which began July 8, paused for numerous collapsed ceasefires and concluded with a still open-ended Aug. 26 truce — ran much longer than planned, particularly due to 17 days of grueling ground war against the tunnel threat.
He even complimented Hamas, from a purely professional perspective, for the strategic planning, asymmetrical tactics and command-and-control capabilities manifest throughout the campaign.
But in Judgment Day interviews with Yediot Ahronot, Israel’s largest daily, and the high-end Ha’aretz, Gantz refused to atone for what he insists is the IDF’s clear victory over Hamas.
“We won,” the IDF chief told Ha’aretz. “Let any officer attending the Command and Staff College analyze it methodically and he will mark every aspect of the campaign as a success.”