Analysis: Netanyahu's mantle as Mr. Security tarnished

Winners and losers in Gaza-gate.

By
February 28, 2017 19:02
3 minute read.
Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must have known how serious State Comptroller Joseph Shapira’s report on Operation Protective Edge was going to be.

That is the only way to explain the series of fivehour briefings he gave to every Israeli media outlet, beginning each one by explaining his narrative of the 2014 operation in the Gaza Strip.

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The only greater understatement than saying that Netanyahu does not like the media is to say that US President Donald Trump does not like the media. Netanyahu only talks to the press when he has to – primarily during elections.

Netanyahu saw the impending report as a potential political crisis that had to be headed off well in advance. The seriousness of the report and its indictment of Netanyahu confirm that the prime minister had every reason to be alarmed.

Perhaps if he targeted the terrorist tunnels with the time and strategy he devoted to targeting the report, the operation and the subsequent report’s release would not have taken place.

Netanyahu was the most obvious loser in what could be called Gaza-gate. His mantle as “Mr. Security” is forever tarnished. His hesitancy to take the necessary security steps is now as well documented as his hesitancy to take diplomatic steps. If he overcomes criminal investigations and runs in the next election, his opponents will be sure to remind the public.

But Netanyahu’s coalition will not be impacted by the report, and he is not the only loser. Two former IDF chiefs of staff who could have been attractive Knesset hopefuls with their security experience now look like more of a burden than a boost.

Moshe Ya’alon and Benny Gantz are portrayed terribly in the report. Netanyahu will have an easy time making them into the scapegoats, and he has bitter former deputy IDF chief Yoav Gallant, who lost the chief of staff job to Gantz, ready to help push that narrative.

Gaza-gate’s most obvious winner is Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett. Shapira’s office said it was a coincidence that the report’s author, former brigadier- general Yossi Beinhorn’s son Doron, is active in the party, but it really looks like the report was written by Bennett himself.

It was Bennett who warned of what needed to be done, and it was Bennett who was proven right in retrospect. The Gaza periphery is safer because of Bennett.

Not bad, unless he lets it go to his head. He would be wise to hide behind a rock for the next few days and let the report speak for itself, otherwise it could boomerang.

Another winner is Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid. His rival, Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog, tried to remind the public Monday that Lapid was in the security cabinet during the operation, and that therefore he deserves just as much blame as Netanyahu.

That is a tough sell. If anything, the report proves that having security experience doesn’t make you smarter, so maybe the next prime minister doesn’t have to be a general after all.

The final victor is the Office of the State Comptroller. When it comes to jobs, that is one of the worst in the country. You have to write long, annoying reports that no one actually reads that just serve to make everyone hate you.

But after this fascinating and damning report, the public should be poised on the edge their seats for the next one, as if it was a long-awaited sequel to the last Harry Potter book. Not bad for an uncharismatic former judge like Shapira, who would have died in anonymity had Netanyahu not pushed for the post to be given to him. Perhaps, like much of what was written in the report, that was a mistake by Netanyahu, too.


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