The new Israeli defense minister is an ally of Netanyahu and a defender of the settlements

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Jerusalem (AFP) – Israel’s new defense minister, Yoav Gallant, is a former general and staunch ally of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a staunch defender of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Galant, 64, oversaw the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and led Operation Cast Lead against Hamas leaders between 2008 and 2009.

He became involved in politics in 2015. Since then, he has held the housing portfolio (2015), education and immigration 2019-2021.

Observers fear a radical change in Israeli policy in the West Bank under the new Netanyahu government.

The new Minister of Defense is known for his support for the settlements, which are illegal under international law, yet some 475,000 settlers live there.

Following Galant’s appointment, the head of the Settlement Council (Yesha) Shlomo Ne’eman welcomed Galant. The council represents Israeli settlers living in the West Bank.

“Yoav Gallant is a man who did a lot for the settlement in Judea and Samaria,” Neeman said Thursday, using the biblical name for the occupied West Bank.

On Wednesday evening, former defense minister Benny Gantz spoke by phone with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

During the call, Gantz stressed “the important relations that existed between the Israeli defense establishment, the political leadership, and the Palestinian Authority.”

several positions

Gallant was born in the Mediterranean port of Jaffa in 1958 to Polish parents who survived the Holocaust.

He was an accomplished soldier and officer in the elite naval unit known as “Flotilla 13” that carried out an operation against the Palestinian Fatah movement in Lebanon in 1978.

At that time, the unit killed about 20 Palestinian militants in the operation, which was enshrined in the history books of the Israeli army.

Between 1982 and 1984, Gallant announced that he had taken a leave of absence from the Army to move to Alaska, where he worked as a lumberjack.

In 2002, he reached the rank of general and served as the military attache to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

He later rose to become commander of the Southern Military Command and oversaw Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005, which saw the evacuation of 8,000 settlers from those settlements.

In late 2008 and early 2009, Galant led Operation Cast Lead against the Gaza Strip, which lasted 22 days and resulted in the killing of 1,440 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

A United Nations report accused both Israel and the ruling Islamist Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip of committing war crimes during the escalation.

Although he was part of a scandal confiscating public lands to build his home, in 2010 he was nominated for the position of Chief of Staff of the Army.

But Gallant was not charged with a criminal offense after an investigative report triggered a petition to the Supreme Court. However, there has been talk of potential legal problems if he is appointed.

Gantz was then chosen chief of staff, and today he succeeds Galant Gantz in the defense portfolio.

Later, after leaving the army, he became director of an excavation company owned by a French-Israeli businessman named Benny Steinmetz, but he resigned from this position in 2014 to get involved in politics.

In 2015, he became housing minister for the center-right Kulanu party, or “All of us,” before moving to Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party in 2019.

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