Gallant swipes at coalition colleagues for ‘outrageous, dangerous’ attacks on IDF

Defense minister’s remarks come after Likud’s Tally Gotliv accused military of ‘working for terrorists’

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks at an awards ceremony for outstanding officers, at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, September 3, 2023. (Shahar Yorman/ Defense Ministry
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant speaks at an awards ceremony for outstanding officers, at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, September 3, 2023. (Shahar Yorman/ Defense Ministry

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday hit back at members of the coalition who have assailed the military and security officials in recent months, saying their “outrageous” remarks harm the Israel Defense Forces.

“In recent days, elected officials, including ministers and members of the Knesset, have been allowing themselves to make false, baseless, and irresponsible statements about the IDF, its commanders, and soldiers,” Gallant said at an awards ceremony for outstanding officers.

“These are outrageous statements that endanger the most important asset of the State of Israel, the Israel Defense Forces,” he said at the event at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv.

“You, commanders, soldiers of the IDF, and members of the security forces who dedicate your lives to the security of the country and the protection of its citizens, deserve all the support, and those who try to discredit you deserve all the condemnation,” Gallant continued.

Referring to national tensions over the government’s plans to overhaul the judicial system, he said: “This is the place to express appreciation to the IDF and its head, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, and the General Staff under his leadership for accomplishing the security tasks, for dealing adamantly with the social challenges affecting the IDF.”

“Even in these days, and perhaps especially in days like these, it is important that we keep the IDF as such, and leave it above and beyond any dispute — we have no other army to lean on,” he added.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant (left) and IDF chief Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi give an outstanding officer an award during a ceremony, at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, September 3, 2023. (Shahar Yorman/Defense Ministry

Gallant’s remarks came after on Friday, MK Tally Gotliv, a lawmaker in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, accused the IDF and Shin Bet security agency of “working for terrorists.”

Gotliv made the claim while coming to the defense of far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, who tussled Friday with Netanyahu over government policy toward Palestinian security prisoners. Ben Gvir insisted new rules limiting family visits to once every two months had come into effect, while Netanyahu said no such decision had been made.

“It’s good to know that the Shin Bet and the IDF are working for the terrorists and security prisoners. The entire deep state is against Minister Ben Gvir,” Gotliv charged in a post on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter.

Her comments were denounced by Netanyahu’s office, which called them “outrageous.” Gallant on Friday also called Gotliv’s statements “grave” and compared them to “stomping on the national flag,” while urging her to “apologize immediately.”

Likud MK Tally Gotliv speaks during a Knesset committee meeting on August 14, 2023. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Gotliv has been a regular source of headaches for the premier with her outspokenness, and was recently responsible for an embarrassing coalition vote loss in parliament after she refused to toe the party line.

Other lawmakers, including from Likud and the far-right Otzma Yehudit and Religious Zionism parties, as well as Netanyahu’s own son, have repeatedly attacked defense officials in recent months, after the military condemned violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank.

Military officials have also come under attack for warning that protests by thousands of reservists, who have ended their volunteer duty in protest of the judicial overhaul, are harming the IDF’s readiness.

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