Former IDF chief of staff Dan Halutz said Saturday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “is no longer an Israeli patriot” while drawing a comparison to Adolf Hitler, calling Justice Minister Yariv Levin “a robot” and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir “a baby caught in a toy store.”
Halutz’s comments elicited ire from Netanyahu’s Likud party, which said the former military chief was inciting against the premier and should be investigated.
During an interview at a live event in Rishon Lezion, Halutz noted a recording of Sara Netanyahu from some two decades ago in which she said “the country can burn” if it doesn’t respect her husband.
“His wife said that in 1999 and since then [the sentiment] has only gotten stronger,” Halutz claimed. When asked how a recording from over 20 years ago was relevant, Halutz answered: “Hitler also said things in 1920 but became leader only in 1933… I’m not comparing them but saying something said in 1999 is no longer relevant? It’s very relevant.”
“All of [Netanyahu’s] behavior proves that it is very relevant,” Halutz continued. “Netanyahu’s behavior today proves that he is no longer an Israeli patriot.”
Halutz suggested that Levin is a robot who “has no ideas inside,” and that Likud ministers Yoav Gallant, Avi Dichter and Nir Barkat — considered among the party’s moderates — need to change course.
“They are people who ran away from their values for political opportunism,” Halutz said of the three ministers. “Every one of them thinks they will be the prime minister. They live in an alternate universe that ignores reality.”
Halutz, who served as chief of staff from 2005-2007, said Likud politicians “have to be blind in order to not see the messages being sent by reservists who serve in the security forces — that they won’t serve in the reserves under a dictatorship.”
In recent weeks, a growing number of groups of reservists have threatened to no longer serve in the IDF reserves, including pilots, armored corps, submariners, sailors and other special forces who have penned letters saying they would not show up for duty if the government’s overhaul of the justice system passes into law.
In a rare statement issued during Shabbat, the Likud party slammed Halutz for his remarks.
“Dan Halutz… accuses Prime Minister Netanyahu, a bereaved brother, a fighter and commander in Sayeret Matkal, who was wounded in the Sabena operation to rescue hostages, of a lack of patriotism,” the Likud party said.
“Dan Halutz continues the delusional and dangerous line of incitement and compares Prime Minister Netanyahu to Hitler,” the statement added. “This is an open incitement to murder. Where has the law enforcement system gone?”