Analysis: Of terror tunnels, comptrollers and the next PM

Netanyahu has succeeded in delaying the comptroller's report which in turn has caused the comptroller to think hard about his conclusions.

December 7, 2016 05:05
2 minute read.
Benjamin Netanyahu

Benjamin Netanyahu. (photo credit: REUTERS)

As important as what it said was, the most important thing about Tuesday’s State Comptroller report was what it did not say.

After all of the negative reviews for the home front’s lack of preparedness for future wars and rocket attacks, absent an actual war, that remains a sideshow in the Israeli political arena.

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In contrast, the grand game has been running since at least May, and while he still may eventually be mortally wounded politically, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seems to have won some of the early rounds.

The grand game is: Who will be blamed for the failure to anticipate the threat of Hamas’ attack tunnels during the 2014 Gaza war once the State Comptroller issues his report on the issue? Will blame directed at Netanyahu bring him down, or wound him enough to put a competitor like Yair Lapid over the top, when the next election comes along? In May, Netanyahu, former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, State Comptroller Joseph Shapira, Yesh Atid Party leader Yair Lapid and Bayit Yehudi Party leader and Education Minister Naftali Bennett went into an unusual public war over a classified draft copy of the comptroller’s report on tunnels.
Hamas shows off underground Gaza tunnels in video

Lapid and Bennett blamed Netanyahu for failing to anticipate the attack tunnels.

Netanyahu hit back and also took shots at Shapira. Shapira held his ground, noting that all criticism was based on unimpeachable documents.

The comptroller’s office also indicated that a final report would emerge sometime around September. Until Netanyahu started to hold meetings with almost every major Israeli media outlet, spending an unprecedented three to four hours at a time, and using PowerPoint presentations to show that he had repeatedly warned or held debates with ministers about the tunnel threat.

Shortly after those media sessions, it emerged that the comptroller report would not come out until November.

That was still the story only a few weeks ago.

But the comptroller had also got a number of corrections and revisions suggested from professional levels of the IDF and defense establishment.

Some of the documentary proof lacked proper context and led to some well-meaning, but off-base conclusions.

Suddenly, in the report issued Tuesday, the comptroller bizarrely wrote that he would be issuing the tunnel report separately at a later date because of the importance of the home front threat.

Yet, most of the data in Tuesday’s report came from 2014 and 2015, or at the latest, early 2016 – meaning the home front is no worse now than it was at the time the information was collected.

That means the comptroller was fudging the continued delay of his tunnel report.

And that means that Netanyahu has succeeded in delaying the report by at least several months, and in causing the comptroller to think harder about his conclusions.

The comptroller may still have the last laugh, but with such embarrassingly thin excuses for delays, Netanyahu has won this round.

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