Comptroller asked to probe alleged Mengistu cover-up

Netanyahu denies he hasn’t been doing enough to bring missing Israelis home.

July 12, 2015 00:44
2 minute read.
Yosef Shapira

State Comptroller Joseph Shapira‏. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

State Comptroller Yosef Shapira was asked Friday to investigate why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not inform the security cabinet or Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that there were two Israelis missing in the Gaza Strip for months.

The call came from Zionist Union MK Yoel Hasson, a former chairman of the Knesset State Control Committee who said he was convinced Shapira had to become involved in the case of Ashkelon resident Avera Mengistu and an unnamed Beduin from Hura.

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“I don’t understand how the prime minister can hide information and act without any oversight from the Knesset,” Hasson said. “It gives me goosebumps to see members of the security cabinet and chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee admit they were uninformed. A state purporting to be democratic cannot allow such a blunder.”

Hasson denounced as “bubbe meises [old wives’ tales]” claims from Netanyahu that the gag order on releasing information on Mengistu since he crossed the border into Gaza last October was needed to bring him home.

Yesh Atid MK Yaakov Peri, a former head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), called for an emergency session of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee so the MKs could be briefed about the two missing Israelis and what he called “the ongoing failure” to inform the public about their fate.

“In a democracy, such a critical issue must be reported and face the oversight of the necessary authorities,” Peri wrote to committee chairman Tzachi Hanegbi.

“Lessons must be learned immediately from this failure, so mistakes are not repeated.”

Meretz leader Zehava Gal- On said at a cultural event in Rishon Lezion that Netanyahu has forgotten that Israel does not have a presidential system, so he is obligated to inform the security cabinet and the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

“Israel has a reckless prime minister who repeatedly allows himself to prevent effective oversight over the defense establishment,” she said.

Netanyahu’s office rejected the criticism, calling it “political attacks that are far from the truth.”

“The prime minister has been dealing with the issue personally since last November, when former MK Pnina Tamnu-Shata appealed to him on the family’s behalf,” a source close to Netanyahu said. “He instructed his coordinator for missing persons Lior Lotan to be in touch with Mengistu’s family, and he has met with them six times. Netanyahu’s handling of the situation has been quite professional and responsible, following guidelines that were successful in past incidents.”

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