Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz has urged the Palestinians to reject violence during Ramadan, telling them that Israel “cannot tolerate” a surge in terror attacks that it will oppose with “might and with determination.”
His message has been described as a “wise step” by an analyst, as Israeli political leaders warn against complacency in security measures, anticipating further violence during Ramadan.
Gantz sent a clear video message to the Palestinian people on the evening of the first day of Ramadan, April 2, in which he called on them to stop all violence to enable Israeli authorities to grant them economic facilities and freedom of movement during the holy month.
His remarks came as Israeli defense and security forces made redoubled efforts to combat what they called the escalating wave of violence from the Palestinians in the West Bank or those who hold Israeli citizenship and live inside Israel.
Gantz’s efforts also coincided with Israeli political leaders’ calls for fierce confrontation.
“We have recently made progress with a series of measures, in coordination with the Palestinian Authority, intended to improve the quality of life and the economy in the (West Bank) area and the Gaza Strip,” the minister said.
“As the month of Ramadan begins, I would like to wish Ramadan Karim to all the Palestinians of the (West Bank) area and the Gaza Strip.
“Unfortunately, we are experiencing a difficult time of terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens — a situation which we cannot tolerate, and which we are opposing with might and with determination.”
He added: “We are currently examining which measures we may take, as Ramadan gets underway, to enable you to celebrate the holiday better while the preservation of security remains our top priority.”
Politicians have vowed to use the utmost force to suppress those involved in violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and even withdraw the permits of their family members, preventing them from entering Israel to work.
“We have recently made progress with a series of measures, in coordination with the Palestinian Authority, intended to improve the quality of life and the economy in the (West Bank) area and the Gaza Strip,” said Gantz.
“Our ability to advance those measures is now threatened by terrorism, and we will continue working on their promotion only if quiet returns and the security situation restabilises. We are eager for that to happen, and I am sure that most of the Palestinians desire it as well,” said the minister.
“In that spirit, I wish us all a tranquil time during the coming holy month and comfortable relaxation among our families.”
Israel Defense Forces reservist Col. David Hacham, a former advisor to several Israeli defense ministers for Arab affairs, saw Gantz’s message as “a wise step.”
Hacham — who has worked with Gantz for many years — told Arab News that he was “a moderate man who is concerned with the continuation of the security calm and is ready to provide essential economic facilities to the Palestinian citizens in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”
Hacham explained that “while the IDF and intelligence services are working to take all necessary measures to prevent the escalation of violence, the minister of defense wants from the Palestinian public, restraint, the return of security stability, the calm on the ground, and the cessation of targeting the Israeli public are part of a pragmatic policy that it follows in parallel with the efforts of the Israeli security establishment to control the situation on the groun.”
Meanwhile, Palestinian political analyst Ghassan Al-Khatib told Arab News that Gantz, who comes from a military and security establishment — which is not looking for electoral votes in Israeli society — “believes that force and more force will not solve the problem and believes in granting various facilities.”
Al-Khatib added: “The economic solutions and freedom of movement facilities alone are not sufficient in the face of the difficult economic situation that the Palestinians are experiencing these days.”
With the second day of Ramadan, the Palesinian Authority is not yet able to pay the salaries of its employees, he pointed out.
“This is in addition to the absence of a political horizon for the Palestinians and unleashing the settlers and settlements to disturb the lives of the Palestinians, which empties these facilities of any content and renders them useless,” said Al-Khatib.
Source: Arab News