Earlier this week, the former chief of staff of the Israeli Army, General Benny Gantz, started his election campaign by taking pride in the destruction of the Gaza Strip and his troops' killing of hundreds of Palestinians. He published a series of short videos, one of which included horrific scenes of the massive destruction inflicted in 2014 on the coastal enclave, which has been under a strict Israeli-led siege for over 12 years. Gantz is proud that he could send Gaza "back to the Stone Age" and boasted that he destroyed 6,231 targets and killed 1,364 "terrorists" in exchange for three and a half years of quiet. He concluded with the slogan "Only the Strong Win".
In another video, dating back to Israel's 2012 military offensive on Gaza, Gantz showed the footage of an Israeli aircraft striking the car carrying Ahmad Al-Jaabari, the deputy commander of the Hamas military wing. "Jaabari felt safe, but Gantz thought another way," say the subtitles. A third video has footage of a funeral for Palestinian martyrs, including civilian police officers; an on-screen digital counter starts at 1 and reaches 1,364, the number of the "terrorists" he killed during the 2014 offensive against what former British Prime Minister David Cameron described as the largest open-air prisoner in the world.
After a successful test of Israel's Arrow missile-defence system on Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his pride in the anti-ballistic missiles and pledged to "crush" the "enemies" of the state of Israel. "We will continue to develop the most advanced weapon systems in the world to ensure the security of the State of Israel and our citizens," he said.
On Wednesday, Israeli news website 0404 reported Netanyahu saying: "Israel is ready for any scenario [in Gaza] and it sent a threatening message to Hamas. If anyone in Gaza thought to raise his head, I advise him not to do so, because the response will be hurtful and lethal." Such remarks by Israel's leaders appear to be based on the law of the jungle.
"Israeli politics after Gantz," tweeted the Director of the Israeli Rights Group B'Tselem, Hagai el-Ad. "Netanyahu, Lieberman, Bennett and Gantz argue whether we killed enough people in Gaza. Not in the debate: 546 children we killed in #Gaza."
For Gantz, the issue is not about casualty statistics; he misrepresented them, in any case. According to Haaretz the Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a report in June 2016 stating the number of Palestinians killed in 2014's "Operation Protective Edge" was actually 936. The reality is that Gantz simply wanted to reflect his criminal nature towards the Palestinians in order to impress on Israeli voters that he is "strong" on security. He omitted to say that among the "terrorists" killed by Israel were hundreds of women and children.
Furthermore, the former General didn't tell his audience that at the time that Al-Jaabari was killed by Israel there was a ceasefire in place with the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, in which the victim of the assassination had been instrumental. The message seems to be that if he could send Gaza "back to the Stone Age" as chief of staff, he will be able to send all Palestinians there as Prime Minister. Israeli activist Miko Peled called Gantz's murderous claims a "Big deal" on twitter, given that his "terrorist" Israel Defence Forces (IDF) was ranged against "a nation that doesn't have an army".
Netanyahu faces corruption charges but still pledges to "crush" his enemies, presumably the Palestinians. If his family had stayed in his father's ancestral home in Poland, the Palestinians who are indigenous to the land upon which Israel was founded on the back of terrorism and lies, would be no "threat" to anyone, least of all him. Nevertheless, the representatives of the people of Palestine agreed 25 years ago to cede 78 per cent of their historic homeland to Israel, and yet Netanyahu and his ilk still demand more. Despite the Israeli propaganda, even Hamas — the most hostile of the Palestinian factions to Israel's military occupation — has agreed on the internationally-backed solution based on the 1967 borders.
Why, therefore, does Netanyahu believe that he has to "crush" the Palestinians using up-to-the-minute weapons and munitions? It's quite simple; he has a criminal nature, something that he has demonstrated on many occasions. In his worldview, it is only the strong who are respected. He even revealed that his predecessor Shimon Peres had a similar nature when he tweeted: "Shimon [Peres] aspired toward peace but he knew that true peace can be achieved only if our hands strongly grasp defensive weaponry. In the Middle East, and in many parts of the world, there is a simple truth: There is no place for the weak." Peres, you may recall, was given the Nobel Peace Prize.
In Netanyahu's opinion, "The weak crumble, are slaughtered and are erased from history while the strong, for good or for ill, survive. The strong are respected, and alliances are made with the strong, and in the end peace is made with the strong." This explains why the Israeli Prime Minister, along with most other Israeli leaders, do not want to make peace with the Palestinians; they see no need to, as long as they can continue to slaughter them with impunity.
It is incredibly sad that politicians in Israel feel the need to make such outrageous claims about their brutal prowess. It is even sadder that Israeli voters will buy into their narrative and vote for them.
Whoever wins the Israeli General Election in April, though, it will make little or no difference to the people of Palestine. Netanyahu and Gantz are two sides of the same Zionist coin; both want as much of Palestine as possible with as few Palestinians on it as possible. The ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians will continue unchecked, no matter who is in charge in Tel Aviv.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.