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Benny Gantz, an Israeli War Cabinet member, resigns from government over lack of plan for postwar Gaza

Benny Gantz resigns from Israel war cabinet
Israeli opposition leader Benny Gantz resigns from war cabinet 03:00

A member of Israel's three-man War Cabinet announced his resignation on Sunday over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's handling of the war in Gaza.

Benny Gantz, a popular former centrist military chief and one of the prime minister's most prominent critics, joined Netanyahu's government shortly after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack in a show of unity. His presence also boosted Israel's credibility with the country's international partners as he has good working relations with U.S. officials.

Gantz said Netanyahu is making "total victory impossible" and that the government needs to put the return of the hostages seized Oct. 7 by Hamas "above political survival."

"That is why we are leaving the emergency government today, with a heavy heart but with full confidence," Gantz said at a televised news conference.

Israel Palestinians Gantz
Benny Gantz, a centrist member of Israel's three-member War Cabinet delivers a statement in Ramat Gan, Israel, Sunday, June 9, 2024. Ohad Zwigenberg / AP

Gantz also called for new elections this fall that will "ultimately lead to the formation of a government that has won the trust of the people and be able to face the challenges."

He also encouraged the third member of the war Cabinet, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, to "do the right thing" and resign from the government as well. Gallant has previously said he would resign if Israel chose to reoccupy Gaza, and encouraged the government to make plans for a Palestinian administration.

On Saturday, Netanyahu had urged Gantz not to leave the emergency wartime government.

"This is the time for unity, not for division," he said, in a direct plea to Gantz.

While his departure does not immediately pose a threat to Netanyahu, who still controls a majority coalition in parliament, it forces the Israeli leader to become more heavily reliant on his far-right allies.

Last month Gantz threatened to depart the government by June 8 if it didn't adopt a new plan. He gave them a three-week deadline.

At the time, Gantz spelled out a six-point plan that included the return of scores of hostages, ending Hamas' rule, demilitarizing the Gaza Strip, and establishing an international administration of civilian affairs. The plan also supports efforts to normalize relations with Saudi Arabia.

He scrapped a planned news conference Saturday night after four Israeli hostages were dramatically rescued from Gaza earlier in the day. According to the Hamas-run Gaza's Health Ministry, at least 274 Palestinians were killed and hundreds more were wounded in the raid. The Israeli military said its forces came under heavy fire during the complex daytime operation and that "under 100" Palestinians were killed, though it was not clear how many of them were militants or civilians.

This is breaking news. Check back for updates.

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