Benny Gantz, Israel’s defense minister, has urged Palestinians to abstain from violence during Ramadan, saying that Israel “cannot allow” an increase in terror incidents, which it will combat with “force and determination.”
An expert described his speech as a “smart step,” as Israeli political officials warn against complacency in security measures as they prepare for more bloodshed during Ramadan.
On the evening of the first day of Ramadan, April 2, Gantz sent a clear video message to the Palestinian people, urging them to stop any violence so that Israeli authorities can provide them with economic opportunities and freedom of movement throughout the holy month.
His comments came as Israeli military and security services stepped up efforts to combat what they described as a “escalating wave of violence” perpetrated by Palestinians in the West Bank or Israeli residents living inside the country.
Gantz’s actions also coincided with appeals from Israeli government leaders for a ferocious battle.
“In conjunction with the Palestinian Authority, we have lately made headway on a series of initiatives aimed at improving the quality of life and the economy in the (West Bank) area and the Gaza Strip,” the minister added.
“As the month of Ramadan begins, I would like to wish all Palestinians in the (West Bank) area and the Gaza Strip Ramadan Karim. “Unfortunately, we are experiencing a difficult time of terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens — a situation that we cannot tolerate and that we are opposing with might and determination.”
“We are presently considering the actions we may take, as Ramadan approaches, to enable you to better celebrate the holiday while maintaining security remains our first concern,” he added.
Politicians have committed to employ whatever means at their disposal to punish people who engage in violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including revoking the work licenses of their family members.
“In conjunction with the Palestinian Authority, we have lately made headway on a series of initiatives aimed at improving the quality of life and the economy in the (West Bank) area and the Gaza Strip,” Gantz stated.
“Terrorism has put our capacity to progress those measures in jeopardy, and we will continue to work on their promotion only if calm returns and the security situation stabilizes.” “We are keen for that to happen, and I am confident that the majority of Palestinians are as well,” the minister stated.
“In that spirit, I wish us all a peaceful holy month and a comfortable holiday season with our families.”
Gantz’s statement, according to Israel Defense Forces reservist Col. David Hacham, a former advisor on Arab matters to numerous Israeli defense ministers, was “a wise start.”
Hacham, who has known Gantz for a long time, described himself as “a reasonable individual concerned with the continuation of the security calm and ready to provide vital economic services to Palestinian inhabitants in the West Bank and Gaza Strip,” according to Arab News.
“While the IDF and intelligence services work to take all necessary measures to prevent the escalation of violence, the minister of defense wants restraint from the Palestinian public,” Hacham explained. “Restraint, the return of security stability, the calm on the ground, and the cessation of targeting the Israeli public are all part of a pragmatic policy that runs parallel to the Israeli security establishment’s efforts to control the situation on the ground.”
Meanwhile, Palestinian political analyst Ghassan Al-Khatib told Arab News that Gantz comes from a military and security institution that “believes that force and more force will not solve the situation and believes in granting various facilities.”
“In the face of the severe economic scenario that the Palestinians are experiencing these days, economic solutions and freedom of movement facilities alone are not sufficient,” Al-Khatib stated.
He noted that the Palesinian Authority is still unable to pay its employees’ salary as of the second day of Ramadan.
“This is on top of the Palestinians’ lack of a political vision and the unleashing of settlers and settlements to disrupt Palestinian lives, which devoids these facilities of any content and renders them useless,” Al-Khatib added.