There is perhaps no other person alive who has Ehud Barak’s range of experience for what war in Gaza looks like—and how Israel’s wartime decisions get scrutinized by the media. Barak led the army when Israel first pulled out of the Gaza Strip in 1994 after the Oslo Accord negotiations. In 2000, during the Second Intifada, a major Palestinian uprising, Barak held the dual roles of defense minister and prime minister. And then in a later stint as defense minister at the end of 2008, Barak led what was called Operation Cast Lead—a three-week conflict with Palestinian paramilitary groups that has been Israel’s largest ground operation in Gaza to date.
Barak spoke with FP’s editor in chief on FP Live, the magazine’s forum for live journalism. Barak is Israel’s most-decorated soldier and remains in close contact with Israel’s top military officers.
[Read a transcript of this interview here.]
Ehud Barak, Israel’s former prime minister, defense minister, and the Israel Defense Forces’ most decorated soldier, lays out the constraints facing Israel as it fights Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Barak explains why Israel can’t fight Hamas without killing so many innocent Palestinian civilians.
Barak discusses whether Israel’s leadership is taking into account the many mistakes made by America after 9/11 into its decision-making on how to respond to Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks.
Barak, who served in several governments with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, says that in order to block any possibility of moving toward a two-state solution, Netanyahu believed he should strengthen Hamas and weaken the Palestinian Authority.
Given the failures in intelligence, diplomacy, and politics in Israel, does Barak believe Netanyahu is capable of accomplishing everything Israel says it needs to do?
Former prime minister of Israel
Ehud Barak served as a former prime minister of Israel. He is also a decorated military general and served as the country’s defense minister and as chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces.
Editor in chief, Foreign Policy
Ravi Agrawal is the editor in chief of Foreign Policy, the host of FP Live, and a regular world affairs analyst on TV and radio. Before joining FP in 2018, Agrawal worked at CNN for more than a decade in full-time roles spanning three continents, including as the network’s New Delhi bureau chief and correspondent. He is the author of India Connected: How the Smartphone Is Transforming the World’s Largest Democracy.