In Israel, Benny Gantz and the most uncertain commando operation of his career

Benny Gantz, former chief of the army, leader of the blue-white centrist list in Israel. (EMMANUEL DUNAND / AFP)

We will know in 28 days if a great unknown is becoming a very famous man. If a new kid of politics has managed to bring down one of the most amazing characters in Israeli history. Benny Gantz, it is him we are talking about, will be charged Wednesday, October 23 to propose a government to Israel, 48 hours after the failure of Benjamin Netanyahu to do so.

Who is this man who is betting that he will send the outgoing Prime Minister to his legal disputes? The task is far from won. He also has no majority. Benny Gantz is a soldier, a man of the foreheads. In Israel, it is common for soldiers to switch to politics, but they usually do it younger. This sexagenarian, often in jeans, created his political party less than a year ago, with fuzzy political proposals, but a solid reputation and a perfect career.

Benny Gantz entered the army as a young man and came out as Chief of Staff, the most prestigious post in the country. He is a paratrooper, and if he is recently known to have led two offensives in Gaza in 2012 and 2014, he is mostly the man who oversaw Operation Solomon: in 1991 he organized an airlift between Ethiopia and Israel: 14,000 Ethiopian Jews are evacuated.

His career makes him a security man, and there is no sign of a change of policy towards the Palestinians. But he was able to breathe a little of the history of the left into his speeches, and promise the Israelis a more social policy. Finally, he claims a symbolic legacy, that of Yitzhak Rabin, the only chief of staff to become prime minister and whose tutelary figure continues to hover over the country. Benny Gantz has just embarked on an unprecedented commando operation: to try to send back to history Netanyahu, prime minister for 13 years.


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