Netanyahu govt more 'frightening' than all Israel enemies, ex-Mossad chief tells crowds

Israelis gather at a rally, calling for a change of Government and to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, March 7, 2015. (Reuters/Amir Cohen)
Israel is suffering the “worst crisis since its creation” under Netanyahu’s leadership, a former Mossad director told a crowd of up to 50,000 in Tel Aviv. The anti-government rally was orchestrated and funded from abroad, said the ruling Likud party.

Delivering his keynote speech, Meir Dagan, the former Mossad director spoke of the government’s lack of vision and inability to properly direct the country surrounded by enemies.

“I am frightened by our leadership. I am afraid because of the lack of vision and a loss of direction. I am frightened by the hesitation and the stagnation [of Israel’s government]. And I am frightened, above all else, from a crisis in leadership. It is the worst crisis that Israel has seen to this day,” Maj. Gen Dagan told a receptive crowd in Rabin Square in Tel Aviv, held under the banner of 'Israel wants change.'

“Israel is a nation surrounded by enemies, but our enemies are not the ones that scare me,” Dagan said blaming Netanyahu for failing to lead at least one “sincere initiative to foment change in the region or to craft a better future.”

In response, the Likud party stated that the gathering - attended by 30 to 50 thousand people, from various estimates - was orchestrated and funded by millions of dollars from abroad in order to “change the nationalist Likud government headed by Netanyahu with a left wing government,” which will be supported by the Arab parties, according to the Times of Israel.

Meanwhile Dagan claimed that Netanyahu’s policies have been leading the country down the road to an “end of the Zionist dream.” He also criticized Netanyahu’s Operation Protective Edge, which saw seven weeks of Israeli bombardment and ground operations in Gaza against Hamas militants last summer which resulted in the deaths of over 2,200 Palestinian people, mainly civilians, and some 70 Israelis.

“We paid a heavy price in blood for a campaign that ended in zero – zero deterrence, zero diplomatic achievements. It was a campaign that only set us back and set in motion the countdown to the next round of fighting,” Dagan said.

The retired general’s grocery list of criticisms also touched on other aspects of Israeli foreign policy and major pressing issue on home front.

“Under his watch, our relations with the United States have deteriorated to unprecedented depths,” he said. “Our health system is collapsing. The housing crisis has reached new heights. The socioeconomic gaps continue to widen. The distance between the poor, rural areas and the Center has never been greater. One of every three Israeli children is poor. Forty percent of Israelis can’t make ends meet.”

Israelis go to the polls on March 17, in a vote in which right wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking a fourth term in office.

On Friday a number of polls showed that Netanyahu’s Likud and Isaac Herzog’s Zionist Union parties are neck and neck.

A Walla! poll gave the Likud and the Zionist Union 24 seats each but said that Netanyahu is better placed to form a majority coalition, Times of Israel reported. An Israel Hayom survey produced similar results, showing Likud and Zionist Union at 23 seats each, while A Maariv poll put Zionist Union slightly ahead at 24 seats, with Likud at 22.