Palestinians gather near the remains of a building that was completely destroyed by an Israeli air strike, in Gaza City November 13, 2018. .
(photo credit: REUTERS/SUHAIB SALEM)
The IDF announced on Tuesday that Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot has launched two separate investigations into a botched operation by elite special forces in the Gaza Strip on November 11, which led to a firefight with Hamas operatives in which one IDF officer and seven Palestinians were killed.
According to the statement, an initial probe into the event, which sparked one of the most severe escalations in tensions since Operation Protective Edge in 2014, is expected to be completed within the coming weeks. The findings of the investigation will be presented to Eisenkot and the head of Military Intelligence, Maj.-Gen. Tamir Hyman.
In addition to the probe, Maj.-Gen. Nitzan Alon has been appointed by Eisenkot to carry out a general assessment of the army’s special operations. He will lead a team to “examine and study the challenges and [make] recommendations at the level of the General Staff, of multiple army branches and of the inter-organizational cooperation between different special forces,” the army said.
The announcement of the team, headed by Alon, comes after a request from the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to receive a classified briefing on the operation.
According to a report by Haaretz, the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, chaired by Knesset member Avi Dichter, has asked that members on the intelligence subcommittee be debriefed on the incident.
While the IDF has remained tight-lipped about the operation with most details remaining under a strict military gag order, the military said that the purpose of the special forces operation was not to kill or kidnap and that the troops were exposed while they “carried out a lengthy operation.”
The military said that the force had “become trapped in a highly complex situation” and responded “heroically” before they had to be extracted by the Air Force’s elite Unit 669.
Hamas has also launched an investigation into the incident in which the group’s Khan Yunis commander Nur Barakeh was killed. They are also reportedly searching for Palestinian collaborators, publishing last week several pictures of individuals they allege took part in the IDF operation.
While the military censor put out a serious warning regarding the publication of pictures and information by Hamas, on Monday the group’s military wing spokesman Abu Obeida said that they had received “important information” about the operation.
According to the Abu Obeida, the group “greatly benefited” from the new information that was allegedly revealed after the photos were published, calling the force – which is said to have entered the blockaded coastal enclave through an official border crossing – “wanted men.”
Hamas says the force was from the Sayeret Matkal’s elite reconnaissance unit and had driven some three kilometers into the Gaza Strip in civilian vans before being spotted by Hamas security officials.
According to senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya, the force had allegedly been attempting to plant listening devices “they wanted to plant to be a burden on our people.”
Israel has not commented on any of the claims.
Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>