Risk of civil war in Israel on the rise: Former official
Former Defense Minister Benny Gantz also expressed concern that Netanyahu’s overhaul plans could place the State of Israel itself at high risk
By News Desk - March 18 2023

(Photo credit: Reuters)

In a series of tweets made on 17 March, former Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz expressed his fear over the eruption of a civil war in Israel, lamenting what he referred to as a ‘disintegration’ of Israeli society.

The tweets come in light of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan for a complete overhaul of the Israeli judicial system.

“I’m afraid there will be a civil war here. I believe that no one wants it, but the deterioration is on a negative slope, and the danger of its occurrence is increasing. These are not tongue-in-cheek words, these are not prophecies of wrath, I live within my people, and I see how we are falling apart,” Gantz said.

“This coup could be the basis for the collapse of the State of Israel as a Jewish, democratic, safe, and just state … whoever takes advantage of … the Knesset to promote a predatory move that will destroy the State of Israel from within, is not fit to lead the country. Netanyahu, I am turning to you: we are a step away from an abyss,” he added.

Gantz also lamented the lack of any sound political dialogue in relation to the overhaul plan.

Since the beginning of the year, massive protests have plagued Israel as a result of the Netanyahu government’s plan to reform the Israeli judiciary in a manner that would give the prime minister the authority to pick and choose judges.

Many Israelis have accused Netanyahu of seeking these reforms in order to weaken the Supreme Court, thereby allowing the prime minister to give himself immunity from prosecution, as he has been embroiled in a number of corruption scandals over the past few years. The judicial overhaul bill has already passed its first reading in the Knesset.

On 13 March, the Knesset moved forward with a bill proposed last month by Netanyahu’s allies that would significantly limit the grounds for his disqualification. This has reinforced the widespread fear that Netanyahu and his government pose a threat to ‘Israeli democracy.’

As a result, hundreds of elite Israeli reservists from the military intelligence’s special operations and cyber warfare divisions have announced a plan to halt all service starting Sunday.

Additionally, staff members of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency have been given permission to participate in the anti-government protests.

The disobedience of Israel’s military and intelligence apparatus reflects fears that unity in Israeli society is in danger.

Further fueling these fears is the growing number of Israelis seeking foreign passports as a result of the judicial reforms, which in itself, is symbolic of a separate concern – that turmoil in Israel could lead to a ‘reverse Aliyah,’ or a mass exodus of Jews from Israel to other parts of the globe (the opposite of early 20th century, mass immigration which led to the formation of Israel).

Just two days ago, Israeli President Isaac Herzog warned during a speech that a civil war is “imminent.”

Many in Israel believe that a civil war is an extremely dangerous turn of events, given that it could potentially pit secular Israelis against religious, ultra-orthodox Israelis – between whom a longstanding divide already exists.

During the speech, Herzog put forward a proposal based on dialogue and compromise regarding the judicial reforms aimed at ending the current political crisis. This was immediately rejected by Netanyahu.

As this political turmoil plunges Israel further into crisis and protests, Israelis seem unconcerned with the new government’s brutal policies regarding the Palestinians.

These policies have resulted in an unprecedented surge in the armed Palestinian struggle, particularly in the occupied West Bank, where the resistance factions are continuously expanding. They have also led many to call for, and even expect, an imminent initiation of a third intifada.

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