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'Hamas has to pay...': Retired Israeli Army general joins battle with only his 9mm pistol

Ziv served as the head of the operations directorate of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and organised platoons of soldiers and fought militants with just his pistol. He has been a critic of PM Netanyahu's policies, claiming they bitterly divided Israelis and threatened the country's security.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Jerusalem Published on: October 13, 2023 16:13 IST
Israel Ziv, the former IDF Operations head, jumped into
Image Source : X Israel Ziv, the former IDF Operations head, jumped into battle armed with only his pistol.

In a step of great bravado, retired Israeli Army general Israel Ziv has taken up arms against the Hamas militants after an unprecedented and brutal attack on the Jewish nation that killed hundreds of people since Saturday morning.

According to a report by the New York Times, Ziv served as the former head of the operations directorate of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) and was taking a bike ride on Saturday when Hamas rockets struck the country. He immediately went home, put on his uniform and went to a deserted highway with his 9mm pistol.

As he approached the Gaza border, the 66-year-old IDF general witnessed hundreds of Hamas militants with heavy machine guns and grenade launchers shooting at him. At first, he could not see any Israeli soldiers, but later saw small bands of the military, clearly outnumbered by militants.

A tough fight

He and his friend Naom Tibon joined a platoon of young soldiers and started firing on Hamas militants. However, taking on the militants with just a pistol proved tough, but Ziv snatched the M16 rifle from a wounded soldier in his Audi and started firing from the window.

The nightmarish scenario described by Ziv included bodies strewn on the highway and Israeli civilians sitting in their cars and homes and running for their lives. "No one could imagine they would do what they did. It is a brutality that we have not witnessed since the establishment of Israel," said Ziv.

Ziv and Tibon split up near the kibbutz, where the latter managed to save his son, a prominent journalist, from Hamas members with the help of some Israeli soldiers. Ziv raced to other areas under attack and fought only with his 9mm pistol, while evacuating civilians and coordinating with the IDF to dispatch backup units immediately.

He also reached the music festival near the Gaza border, where Hamas militants killed 260 people, although too late. "I think the trigger for this whole attack was this event. Hamas planned this for a long time. But they knew a critical mass would be here this weekend," he told NYT.

Ziv's stance against Netanyahu

Ziv's action to drive headlong into battle with only his pistol and organising troops, was widely publicised by Israeli media. He is widely respected in power circles as a former IDF head and held several teleconferences to raise money for victims and their families.

Ziv has also been a fierce critic of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, criticising him for several policies that according to him, bitterly divided Israelis and threatened the security of the country. "The government is totally paralysed," he said, referring to the current conflict and the government's response to the mayhem caused by Hamas.

He also met Israel's Defence Minister Yoav Gallant at the defence ministry and held secret meetings with national security officials, making sure they could not be tracked. The current loss of trust in the military has led to raging debate on Israelis considering taking up arms themselves.

Meanwhile, Ziv is spearheading an effort to empower retired generals and former soldiers to rebuild community defence squads in the Gaza border area and around Israel. "People don’t understand how fragile the situation is. “Hamas has to pay for this with their existence," he said after the music festival massacre.

The Israel-Hamas war

The week-old war has already claimed over 2,800 lives on both sides and sent tensions soaring across the region. The death toll from Israeli strikes on Gaza rose to 1,537, with 6,612 people wounded, the Gaza-based Health Ministry said Thursday. Of those killed, 500 were under the age of 18, the ministry said. On the other hand, over 1,300 people have died in Israel from the Hamas attack since Saturday morning.

The Hamas militant group on Friday said that at least 13 hostages captured by them have been killed due to Israel's relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip. There has not been any immediate response from Israel. In a statement, the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, announced that the 13 hostages were killed in five locations targeted by Israel over the last 24 hours. 

The IDF also retook the Sufa military post near the border with Gaza, rescuing 250 hostages and eliminating more than 60 Hamas militants.

Since the Hamas attack on Israel, the latter has launched relentless air and artillery strikes on the Gaza Strip, a densely packed region of 2.4 million people, causing the deaths of over 1,500 people including children. 

Palestinians said that heavy Israeli airstrikes continued across the Gaza Strip, with bombardment on residential buildings in densely populated city districts and refugee camps. Additionally, Syrian state media reported that Israeli airstrikes on Thursday put two Syrian international airports out of service.

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) dropped at least 6,000 bombs weighing 4,000 tonnes to eliminate hundreds of Hamas militants as of Thursday. The operation, which began in the early hours of the sixth day of the war, also saw the involvement of dozens of fighter jets, helicopter gunships and aircraft.

(with agency inputs)

ALSO READ | 13 hostages, including foreigners, killed in Israel's bombardment of Gaza Strip: Hamas

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