UPDATES 8 am Israel time, Monday, September 8 2014:
**There was major rioting in Jerusalem again last night centered in the French Hill neighborhood. As of this morning, the Jerusalem Light Rail has suspended stops in that area.
**The race is on for a new IDF Chief of Staff to take over when Benny Gantz’s fourth and final year of service in the position ends five months from now in February 2014.
Gantz’s term has been marked by a passive lethargy that has enveloped and de-energized the IDF General Command. To listen to those on the “left”, Gantz has served admirably, exercising (in the words of leftist Israeli newspaper Haaretz) a “greater of caution” than his predecessors.
However to those of us on the “right”, Gantz has been an unmitigated disaster from the moment he took over. Most recently, behind the scenes of Netanyahu’s public support of Benny Gantz for the operation in Gaza has been a strong undercurrent of discontent with the IDF’s performance in the war, especially its lack of initiative and lack of willingness to take risks–both of which are a reflection of Gantz’s “leadership”.
In any case, the race seems to have already boiled down to two candidates:
Major General Gadi Eisenkot who, unsurprisingly, is the personal favorite of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. The 54-year-old Eisenkot currently serves as the Deputy Chief of Staff, and is widely thought to be made from the same passive mold as Ya’alon and Gantz.
Major General Yoav Galant who appears at the moment at least to be the favorite of PM Netanyahu. It was Galant who was supposed to have been named Chief of Staff three years ago instead of Gantz–only to have his nomination withdrawn because of a document that was forged in his name (the perpetrators of that forgery were recommended for indictment 5 days ago and include then IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi–read more about the “Harpaz affair” here).
As regular readers of israelstreet know, your humble servant has long lamented the fact that Galant was passed over. As the highly successful commander of the IDF Southern Command during Operation Cast Lead, he is the right man for the job.
**Numbers concerning the death toll in Gaza were coming fast and furious from the mouth of Mahmoud Abbas in Cairo yesterday. Some of his more interesting ones:
–50 Hamas members and 861 Fatah (PLO) members were killed during the recent conflict in Gaza. Approximately 15% of the Fatah members were killed by Hamas.
–30 to 40 Palestinians were executed without trial for allegedly “collaborating with Israel”
–120 children were killed for violating the Hamas-imposed curfew in Gaza (Abbas had already pointed this out the day before).
The comments of long-time Hamas spokesman Mahmoud Al-Zahar two days ago (reported yesterday on israelstreet) that Hamas is using the current “ceasefire” to expand its tunnel network leading into Israeli communities on the border and to continue smuggling in and producing weapons has produced predictably pathetic responses from “unnamed sources” in Benny Gantz’s IDF General Command yesterday.
One senior Gantz strategist doubted that new tunnels and weapons are being produced: “We [the IDF General Command] think they [Hamas and Islamic Jihad] are in very bad shape.”
Another security source blathered this nonsense: “We don’t know what the source is for Zahar’s information. It is not clear that the senior leadership of Hamas is indeed preparing to rebuild their assets in advance of another conflict.”
The failure in thinking of the IDF at the strategic level is astonishing.
Of course, Hamas is continuing to build its tunnels.
Of course, Hamas is continuing to obtain and produce weapons.
Where is Zahar getting his information? Obviously, from his cohorts in Hamas. Zahar has lived in his tunnel bunker for the last two months.
And the next conflict is coming sooner rather than later. Perhaps much sooner. Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh declared yesterday that unless all the blockades of Gaza are removed by September 25th, Hamas will begin raining missiles down on southern Israel again.
September 25th, by the way, is not a random date. It is Rosh Hashana, the same date that Hamas had planned to use the tunnels into Israel to carry out massacres of Israeli civilians and soldiers.