ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 141

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Halevi briefs ministers on war efforts, aid to Gaza, Rafah offensive; Ben Gvir spars with him, again

Lazar Berman is The Times of Israel's diplomatic reporter

File: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and IDF chief Herzi Halevi at the start of a security cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv, November 16, 2023. (Haim Zach/GPO)
File: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and IDF chief Herzi Halevi at the start of a security cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv, November 16, 2023. (Haim Zach/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with government ministers at the IDF’s Julis base near Ashdod, where IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi offers a briefing on the war effort. According to multiple media reports, Halevi’s presentation was well-received and he told ministers that he would like to meet them more often to discuss the war.

Halevi tells the government ministers that he has approved a Rafah operation three times already and that he stands ready to carry out such an operation if the government gives the green light, Channel 13 reports.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, a frequent cabinet critic of the chief of staff, gets into an argument with Halevi over tightened rules of engagement on the border. “Anyone who approaches the fence and endangers the citizens of Israel and our heroic soldiers should be shot,” he says, according to Israel National News. “This is how it is done in any normal country. We must not return to the October 6 concept.”

Halevi reportedly responds that he has explained the rules of fire several times to Ben Gvir, and that rules proving for an automatic response to any gunfire would increase the risk of soldiers being hurt by their own colleagues.

They also argue over the military preventing protesters against aid to Gaza from reaching Kerem Shalom, and over humanitarian aid more broadly.

Halevi says that if the aid doesn’t go through Kerem Shalom, it will go through Rafah without Israeli supervision, according to Maariv.

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