The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee’s probe of Operation Protective Edge is a “farce,” left-wing MKs said on Tuesday.
MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) called for an independent commission of inquiry to be formed to investigate the government’s and defense establishment’s actions during the war.
“The farce of an investigation in the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee will not pass. It is a sad joke. This isn’t an investigation,” Horowitz said as the committee received testimony from National Security Council head Yossi Cohen and Military Intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi in a session that was closed to the press.
The testimony was part of the committee’s ongoing work, but also will be used for its examination of Protective Edge. Last month, Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Ze’ev Elkin announced that the panel would investigate Protective Edge as an extension of its responsibility to oversee the defense establishment’s activities.
Each of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Subcommittees – on Intelligence and Secret Services, Foreign Affairs and Public Diplomacy, and others – will investigate its own subject via past protocols and invite relevant officials to testify. A new committee called “The Forum,” comprised of subcommittee chairmen, will integrate all the findings into one report.
Most of the findings will be confidential, but a section will be made available to the public.
Horowitz accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of “hiding behind Elkin” and demanded an independent probe rather than what he called “a political deal between Netanyahu and the heads of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, who are rightwing extremists.”
“The committee is completely political and holds meetings behind closed doors without public oversight and without enough representation for the opposition,” Horowitz said.
“The goal is to whitewash the whole matter and we will not let that happen.”
MK Nachman Shai (Labor), meanwhile, said a commission led by a judge should examine Operation Protective Edge, as was done for the Second Lebanon War.
“Any other forum, like the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, which is political, cannot do it,” he said, pointing out that no minister has reported to the committee why and how the operation came to an end and saying this “causes serious harm to Israeli democracy and the Knesset’s job.”
MK Motti Yogev (Bayit Yehudi), who will examine security for civilians on the entire home front with a focus on Gaza border towns as part of the Operation Protective Edge investigation, told The Forum, which held its first meeting on Tuesday, that the committee’s investigation will be good for Israel’s security.
“The State of Israel, situated in the neighborhood of the Middle East, doesn’t have the privilege of taking its time.
We have to look forward and improve quickly while learning the lessons of the operation,” Yogev said. “During Operation Protective Edge, we had the upper hand militarily and diplomatically, and I have no doubt that we will come out more aware, active and stronger.”
Yogev also said Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon led the operation responsibly and with discretion.
Speaking before he addressed the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, National Security Council chief Cohen said Hamas was hit hard and noted that none of its conditions for a cease-fire were met.
“Israel’s security forces, over 50 days, dealt Hamas the hardest blow it has absorbed since it was founded [in 1987],” he said. “The international community, which gave us legitimacy during the operation, has a better understanding of the security reality Israel is dealing with today. We will continue to work with the international community to change this reality.”
Israel continues to be prepared for all threats on all fronts, Cohen said.