Benny Gantz Demands Clear Strategy from Israeli Government by June 8 and More

Gantz Demands War Plan Amid Gaza Crisis and Diplomatic Efforts

by Faruk Imamovic
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Benny Gantz Demands Clear Strategy from Israeli Government by June 8 and More
© Getty Images/Amir Levy

Former Israeli Defense Minister and current War Cabinet member Benny Gantz has issued a stern ultimatum to the Israeli government, demanding a comprehensive plan for the ongoing conflict with Hamas by June 8. Speaking in Ramat Gan on Saturday night, Gantz emphasized the necessity of a detailed strategy to ensure a decisive outcome against Hamas.

Gantz's ultimatum includes several critical points: the complete elimination of Hamas, the return of hostages, the establishment of an alternative governance structure in Gaza, the repatriation of Israeli residents to the north, and progress towards normalization with Saudi Arabia. Gantz made it clear that failure to meet these demands would result in his withdrawal from the government.

Gantz's comments underscore a growing frustration within Israel's leadership regarding the current state of the conflict. He urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to choose between "victory and disaster," highlighting the high stakes of the ongoing military operations.

The Situation in Gaza: Humanitarian Crisis Worsens

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has reached a critical point, according to a report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The report, released on Friday, outlines the severe shortages of food and essential supplies in Gaza, exacerbated by ongoing Israeli military operations in Rafah.

Since May 6, more than 3,000 metric tons of food stored in main warehouses have become inaccessible due to the hostilities. The UN has stressed that the limited aid reaching Gaza is insufficient to meet the soaring needs of its population. Israeli forces seized the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on May 7, halting aid deliveries through this crucial route.

The situation has further deteriorated in Khan Younis and Deir al Balah, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have fled to escape the violence in Rafah. Between May 6 and May 16, nearly 640,000 people were displaced from Rafah, with no remaining stocks of shelter materials inside Gaza, according to the UN.

Jens Laerke, an OCHA spokesperson, emphasized the urgency of allowing more aid to pass through checkpoints and enter Gaza by land. "Any and all aid into Gaza is welcome by any route. However, getting aid to people in need, into and across Gaza, cannot and should not depend on a floating dock," Laerke said, referring to the floating pier built by the US military that has started to funnel aid to the enclave. Despite the delivery of over 300 pallets of humanitarian aid through the pier, the overall situation remains dire.

Humanitarian Aid Destined For Gaza, DECEMBER 22, 2023
Humanitarian Aid Destined For Gaza, DECEMBER 22, 2023© Getty Images/Alexi J. Rosenfeld
 

Saudi-US Discussions Amid Regional Tensions

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in Dhahran on Sunday to discuss regional developments, including the crisis in Gaza. The meeting, reported by the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA), focused on "the need to stop the war" and finding a "credible track towards the two-state solution."

The discussions also covered the finalization of strategic agreements between Saudi Arabia and the US, indicating a potential shift in regional alliances and strategies. The meeting comes at a time when the international community is closely watching the unfolding events in Gaza and the broader Middle East.

Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia
Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia© Getty Images
 

Frustration Among Arab and Palestinian Americans

Arab and Palestinian Americans have expressed frustration following a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday night. The attendees left the meeting without a clear understanding of how the Biden administration might address their concerns about the Israel-Hamas war.

Bilal Hammoud, executive director of the American Arab Chamber of Commerce, described the meeting as "disappointing" due to the lack of concrete next steps. The meeting, which lasted more than 90 minutes, was seen by many as a missed opportunity for the administration to demonstrate its commitment to resolving the conflict and addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

The Arab and Palestinian American community remains divided over engagement with the White House, with some members feeling disillusioned by the administration's policies. The attendees went into the meeting with specific demands, including an immediate ceasefire, the return of all hostages, unimpeded humanitarian assistance, and the end of US arms shipments to Israel. However, they did not receive any commitments from the administration to act on these demands.

John Dabeet, president of the US Palestinian Council, expressed cautious optimism but acknowledged the difficulty in predicting the administration's actions. "We are not naive. We did not go there thinking we can turn the ship completely in the opposite way, but any change we can create will be seen as a positive thing to help the people in Gaza to lower their suffering," Dabeet said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken© Getty Images
 

The Biden Administration's Response

The Biden administration recently paused a shipment of bombs to Israel, citing concerns over their potential use in Rafah, where more than a million civilians are sheltering. However, the meeting attendees did not view this step as significant enough to force an end to the conflict.

Participants left the meeting feeling that further engagement with the Biden administration would require significant policy changes. "I would not attend another meeting until there is action," Hammoud stated. The community's frustration is palpable, with many feeling that the administration knows what needs to be done but has yet to take meaningful steps.

Ghada Elnajjar, a Palestinian American who has lost over 80 family members in the conflict, voiced her disappointment and concern for the upcoming elections. "They are risking the elections," she said, indicating that the administration's handling of the situation could impact voter support.

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