Benny Gantz Resigns from Netanyahu's Government

Benny Gantz Resigns from Netanyahu's Government
Benny Gantz Resigns from Netanyahu's Government

Israeli minister Benny Gantz announced his resignation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's emergency government, withdrawing the only centrist power in the embattled leader's far-right coalition, amid a months-long war in Gaza.

Netanyahu issued a brief statement calling on Gantz not to "abandon the front" but his departure will not endanger the parliamentary majority of 64 seats in the 120-seat Knesset held by the ruling right-wing coalition.

"Netanyahu is preventing us from advancing toward true victory. 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.

Gantz's resignation had been expected ever since he presented the conservative prime minister with a June 8 deadline to come up with a clear day-after strategy for Gaza, where Israel has been pressing a devastating military offensive against the ruling Palestinian militant group Hamas.

Gantz had originally been expected to announce his resignation but pushed back the statement following the dramatic rescue of four hostages by Israeli forces.

Meanwhile residents of Palestinian Al-Nuseirat camp in Gaza woke up to a scene of massive destruction in the area after hours of Israeli intensive strikes on the camp that killed and injured hundreds, and displacing others.

Israeli forces pounded central Gaza anew, a day after killing 274 Palestinians during a hostage rescue raid, and tanks advanced into further areas of Rafah in a bid to seal off part of the southern city, residents and Hamas media said.