As Hezbollah strikes, Gantz and Lapid at odds over attacks on Netanyahu

PM’s Likud party mocks Blue and White leaders for putting out seemingly contradictory statements on northern flareup

Leaders of the Blue and White party, Benny Gantz, left, and MK Yair Lapid, hold a press conference, in Tel Aviv, on March 31, 2019. (Flash90)
Leaders of the Blue and White party, Benny Gantz, left, and MK Yair Lapid, hold a press conference, in Tel Aviv, on March 31, 2019. (Flash90)

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz said Sunday he would suspend his party’s election campaign after the Hezbollah terror group fired anti-tank missiles at Israeli territory from Lebanon, as there is “no opposition and no coalition” when it comes to Israel’s security.

But MK Yair Lapid, the No. 2 in Gantz’s electoral alliance, in a scathing statement, blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the Hezbollah fire.

The attack in the north came just over two weeks before the general election in Israel, with Blue and White running neck-and-neck with Netanyahu’s Likud to finish as the largest party.

No Israelis were injured by the missiles, which destroyed a military vehicle and damaged an army base outside the community of Avivim. The Israel Defense Forces said it fired some 100 at Hezbollah targets in retaliation for the attack, which the terror group indicated was to avenge two of its operatives killed in an Israeli airstrike last month in Syria.

Smoke rises near the community of Avivim following an anti-tank missile attack from Lebanon on September 1, 2019. (Courtesy)

Gantz, a former IDF chief, announced he would suspend his campaign in light of the security situation until the incident was clarified, implying he would not criticize Netanyahu.

“There is no opposition and no coalition in an operation against anyone who tries to harm the citizens of Israel or its sovereignty,” he wrote on Twitter.

At around the same same, Lapid put out his own statement hitting out at Netanyahu.

Lapid said the prime minister — who is also defense minister — has shifted away from the military’s longstanding policy of ambiguity on Israel’s operations in neighboring countries, in a bid to drum up political support ahead of the September 17 elections.

“The children in the north are in shelters for one reason: Because Bibi [Netanyahu] violated the successful policy of ambiguity ahead of the elections,” tweeted Lapid. “This is what happens when the prime minister plays politics at the expense of security.”

The apparent dissonance between Gantz and Lapid’s tweets was mocked by Likud.

“Two contradictory tweets from Lapid and Gantz put out in the same minute. One big Balagantz,” the party tweeted, using a portmanteau of Gantz’s name and the Hebrew slang word for “mess.”

Likud also went after Lapid at length, accusing him of putting politics before the lives of Israeli soldiers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at the opening of a Honduran trade office in Jerusalem on September 1, 2019. (Marc Israel Sellem/ Pool/ Flash90)

“Yair Lapid joined his natural partners from the Joint [Arab] List and attacked Prime Minister Netanyahu while he was navigating, with responsibility and firmness, a complicated security incident in the north,” it said.

“Lapid was seriously mistaken when he chose to play politics at the expense of IDF soldiers as they were fighting Hezbollah,” Likud added.

The Blue and White No. 2 dismissed the Likud statement and reiterated his earlier criticism of Netanyahu.

“Your moral preaching and self-righteousness don’t make any impression on me,” Lapid tweeted.

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