Former political and military officers in Israel – including a former prime minister – are urging Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu to step down after the Hamas attacks on 7 October that took the country by surprise and has led to thousands of deaths.
At least 1,400 Israelis have died, mainly on the first day of the raid, in what represented the deadliest attack on civilians in the history of Israel.
Israel’s retaliatory bombings against the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, an area slightly larger than Malta with a population of over 2.2 million people, are believed to have killed considerably more people: the area’s health authorities claim over 4,600 fatalities. A million residents are internally displaced.
And as debate rages on in Israel about the country’s response to the Hamas attacks, Netanyahu’s own leadership is being put into question.
Former prime minister Ehud Barak – one of Israel’s most decorated soldiers – told The Observer that the Hamas attacks represented a “negligence and failure on several levels” for Israel, and that he did not believe that the public trusted Netanyahu to lead when such a devastating event took place under his watch.
“You cannot lead Israel through such a demanding crisis, both politically and strategically, when you are responsible for the most severe kind of failure of government in the history of the country, and you cannot rebuild this trust from zero. So the country has to find a way to replace him in leading the government,” Barak said.
The Observer also quoted similarly damning assessments of Netanyahu by Dan Halutz, a former chief of staff of the Israel Defence Forces, and from former intelligence official Avi Melamed.
Halutz said that Netanyahu appeared more preoccupied over his political future – the Israeli PM had been facing heavy criticism over controversial judicial reforms prior to the Hamas attacks – than over the plight of his people.
The PM, he insisted, “should resign now, as we speak; there are better people to handle it.”
Melamed said that the attacks exposed a clearly dysfunctional government, and that he struggled to see a situation in which Netanyahu could continue to lead as if nothing happened.
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