In a humorous video intended to dispel the rumors about intense tensions within the “cockpit” of four leaders of the Blue White party – Benjamin Gantz, Yair Lapid, Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon, and Gabi Ashkenazi – Lapid is heard telling Ashkenazi that “Bogie was quite a murderer in the army, in his military career.”
The two then segue into a joke about the rivalry between the Paratrooper and the Golani Brigades. Ya’alon served in the first, Ashkenazi in the second. The video can be seen here (Hebrew).
Ya’alon was indeed quite a murderer. As Deputy Chief of Staff and as Chief of Staff, he oversaw some of the bloodiest attacks during the Second Intifada. Infamously, he ordered an attack in Gaza against a civilian building in 2002 – an assassination of Hamas military leader Saleh Shehade, which also claimed the lives of 14 civilians, 11 among them children. More than 50 people were wounded, and many houses severely damaged.
In his remarks about the attack, Ya’alon claimed intelligence said Shehade was there with his wife only, and so “we allowed ourselves to kill the wife.” He did not show any remorse for the killing. The action shocked IDF pilots, and 22 reserve pilots signed a public letter saying they refused to fly assassination missions.
As Deputy Chief of Staff, Ya’alon was part of the massive quiet mutiny of the IDF in October 2000 and afterwards, when orders by the Ehud Barak government to show restraint during the beginning of the Second Intifada were blatantly ignored. The IDF fired a million rounds that October.
And it didn’t end with the Second Intifada. Ya’alon was Defense Minister during Operation Protective Edge, when the IDF killed more than 500 Palestinian children from the air. He was in charge of the Mavi Marmara massacre, when Israeli commandos killed eight Turkish and one Turkish-American protesters – at least one of whom was shot execution-style, and several shot from the air. A tenth died of injuries later. The attack was such a scandal, the IDF captured and destroyed all videos of the attack – and Yaalon quickly announced he was not properly briefed, he was unaware, etc. This, by the way, is a common feature of his career. If it’s a failure, Ya’alon wasn’t there.
In between, Ya’alon was an early architect of the Gaza siege, using economic warfare – wild destruction of crops, prevention of exports – as part of an attempt to force a surrender on Gaza.
So, yes, he was quite a murderer. That Blue White is bragging about that is not surprising: The party’s predecessor, Israel Resilience, less than a year ago ran an ad showing the bombed Gaza Strip looking eerily like a bombed city in the Second World War (the film was black and white for extra effect), with a running counter showing the rising number of dead Palestinians during Operation Protective Edge of 2014. Another ad bragged that Benny Gantz as army chief of staff had bombed Gaza “back to the Stone Age.”
They believe, so far correctly, that portraying themselves as murderers of Palestinians will get them votes.
Keep that in mind if they actually manage to topple Netanyahu.