One Israeli cabinet minister was barred from a hospital visitors’ entrance. Another’s bodyguards were drenched with coffee thrown by a bereaved man. A third had “traitor” and “imbecile” shouted at her as she came to comfort families evacuated during the horror.
The shock Oct. 7 massacre by Hamas gunmen has rallied Israelis to one another. But there is little love shown for a government being widely accused of dropping the country’s guard and engulfing it in a Gaza war that is rattling the region.
Whatever ensues, a day of judgment looms for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after a record-long career of political comebacks.
Public fury over some 1,300 Israeli fatalities has been further fuelled by Netanyahu’s signature self-styling as a Churchillian strategist who foresaw national-security threats.
Another backdrop is social polarisation this year over his religious-nationalist coalition’s judicial overhaul drive, which triggered walkouts by some military reservists and raised doubts – now borne out in blood, some argue – about combat-readiness.
“October 2023 Debacle” read a headline in top-selling daily Yedioth Ahronoth, language meant to recall Israel’s failure to anticipate a twin Egyptian and Syrian offensive in October 1973, which eventually led then-Prime Minister Golda Meir to resign.
That ouster put paid to the hegemony of Meir’s centre-left Labour party. Amotz Asa-El, research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, predicted a similar fate for Netanyahu and his long-dominant, conservative Likud party. [Continue reading…]