Reports: Netanyahu Pushed for Major Gaza Op Days Before Election
As Israelis head to the polls Tuesday for the country’s second national election in less than six months, reports surfaced that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last week pushed for a major operation in the Gaza Strip but was vehemently opposed by top military brass. Netanyahu – who also holds the defense portfolio – reportedly pressed for a significant campaign against Hamas after he was forced off stage during a pre-election event in Ashdod due to rocket fire toward the city. Thereafter, the premier convened a meeting with high-ranking Israel Defense Forces officials, including its chief-of-staff Aviv Kochavi, and recommended launching an “extraordinary” and “far-reaching” military response. However, the plan did not gain traction, as Netanyahu was warned that such a move could spiral out of control, possibly resulting in full-blown war. According to the reports, the defense officials believed that Netanyahu’s calculus was based on political rather than security considerations. The prime minister’s political rivals have repeatedly accused him of allowing Hamas to attack Israel with impunity, and a limited offensive could have dispelled this notion while providing Netanyahu with an electoral boost.