Israeli defence minister publicly criticising Benjamin Netanyahu was a dramatic move

When Yoav Gallant recorded a televised statement criticising Israel's judicial reforms in March 2023, Benjamin Netanyahu sacked him. A few days later, after massive street protests, the defence minister was reinstated.

israeli defence minister publicly criticising benjamin netanyahu was a dramatic move

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and defense minister Yoav Gallant. Pic: Reuters

Mr Gallant has again taken to the television to criticise the Israel Prime Minister, this time over the lack of a 'day-after plan' for Gaza.

He implied that Mr Netanyahu's indecision was harming the country's security and leading to a de-facto military control of Gaza.

The bad blood between prime minister and defence minister is no secret, but thrusting it into the open in this way was a dramatic move.

Israel-Gaza latest: IDF soldiers killed by Israeli 'tank crossfire', military says

That he remains in office, despite calls from the far-right to dismiss him, says as much about the weakness of Mr Netanyahu's hold on power as it does about the logic behind Mr Gallant's intervention.

On Wednesday night, around the same time Mr Gallant was holding his press conference, five Israeli soldiers were killed and seven seriously wounded in a friendly-fire incident in Jabaliya, northern Gaza.

Jabaliya was one of the first areas Israeli forces entered, following 7 October.

Four months ago they announced they had dismantled Hamas battalions in the refugee camp and yet they have been forced to return, in large numbers, because Hamas has regrouped and remains a threat there.

That's what insurgencies do, but Mr Netanyahu seemingly failed to foresee it.

How often, in wars past, have we seen militant forces fade away in the face of a superior army, only to return later, alive to fight another day.

Procrastinating on a plan for civilian rule of Gaza, as Mr Netanyahu has done for months now, has left a vacuum in much of the enclave and so, surprise, surprise, Hamas has returned to areas that Israel had declared clear.

Israeli forces have also returned, this time with experience of the particular battlefield but increasingly frustrated about the political indecision that has brought them back; battle-hardened, but war-weary.

israeli defence minister publicly criticising benjamin netanyahu was a dramatic move

An Israeli soldier sits in a tank near the Israel-Gaza border. Pic: Reuters

Lacking a clear strategy, and without a vision for the 'day-after', Israeli troops risk being dragged into a war lasting years not months. Maybe that is Mr Netanyahu's plan after all, but his call for "total victory" is a fantasy - militant groups and terror organisations have an annoying habit of regenerating.

What is needed is an alternative to Hamas, another option for governing Gaza. That would put pressure on the group and create a political pathway for Arab states, and the West, to coalesce around.

Mr Gallant knows it and so, reportedly, do senior Israeli security figures. Mr Gallant is trying to force Mr Netanyahu to make a decision, something he famously avoids, but with Israeli soldiers still dying in Gaza it soon will not just be his defence minister publicly turning against him.

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