In Search of Leadership: Israeli Ex-General Critical of Netanyahu’s Leadership
By Cesar Chelala
106 former high-ranking Israeli members of the armed forces and police and intelligence officers have called on Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make a strong move for peace with the Palestinians. In a letter to the Prime Minister, the army and police officers said that Netanyahu should seriously pursue peace with the Palestinians stating, “We, the undersigned, reserve Israel Defense Forces (IDF) commanders and retired police officers, who have fought in Israel’s military campaigns, know first-hand of the heavy and painful price exacted by wars.” The officers called on Netanyahu to embark on a “courageous initiative” and make peace with the Palestinians and other Arab countries.
The letter came at a time when the situation is rapidly deteriorating in Gaza and in Jerusalem. Following an October 24 suicide attack in the Sinai Peninsula where some 30 policemen were killed, Egypt closed the Rafah crossing, a 12 km long border between Gaza and Egypt. The situation worsened last weekend when Israel also closed its two main border crossings after an anonymous group launched a mortar shell at Israel –the second incident after the August 27 truce.
As a result of those actions by Egypt and Israel, the Gaza Strip is now totally sealed off, leaving its inhabitants, foreigners and sick people totally isolated, even those in need of medical care. “Gaza had turned into a big prison, and now it will turn into a huge graveyard,” said Fatima Hassan, a 56-year-old breast cancer patient from the town of Khan Younis in the Southern Gaza Strip.
In the letter addressed to Netanyahu, the Israeli officials state, “We fought bravely for the country in the hope that our children would live here in peace, but we got a sharp reality check, and here we are again sending our children out into the battlefield. This is not a question of left or right. What we have here is an alternative option for resolving the conflict that is not based solely on bilateral negotiations with the Palestinians, which have failed time and again.”