PM Netanyahu, Ya'alon and Gantz in the South.
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened the heads of the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) on Wednesday night, ordering them to settle their differences.
The meeting took place after IDF Chief of Staff Lt.- Gen. Benny Gantz sent a letter of complaint to Netanyahu to protest the conduct of the Shin Bet and its director, Yoram Cohen, and warning of a crisis of trust between the two bodies, in an unprecedented display of division within the defense establishment.
The letter followed accounts by Shin Bet members that were aired this week on Channel 2’s Uvda (Fact) investigative program, in which they said that the domestic intelligence agency provided an alert about Hamas’s intentions to launch a war this past summer.
Shin Bet sources have maintained that they provided the alert several months before the outbreak of hostilities in July.
The IDF, as well as Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, have dismissed the idea that an advance intelligence alert was received in the months that led up to the conflict.
In July, a senior defense source said Gantz had alerted the military that a clash with Hamas might likely start that month.
In the months preceding the 50-day war, the IDF added large forces to the Gaza Division in preparation, according to the source.
The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee knew about the dispute before it was publicized and held several classified meetings on the topic in recent days, calling in relevant officials to testify.
The committee sent a letter to Netanyahu on Wednesday asking him to mediate between the sides to end the conflict, and listing recommendations on how to move forward.
According to a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s Office on Wednesday night, Netanyahu told Gantz and Cohen: “We all have a national responsibility for the security of Israel and we must continue to fully cooperate for the safety of the citizens of Israel.”
Ya’alon – who received a copy of the Gantz letter – has expressed full support for the IDF chief of staff’s position, and expects clarification from Cohen.