IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman meet to discuss Israeli-Iranian escalation in Syria, February 2018.
(photo credit: ARIEL HERMONI / DEFENSE MINISTRY)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized former defense minister Avigdor Liberman on Thursday for statements he made against outgoing IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot.
In a recent meeting with top generals about the security situation on the Gaza border, Liberman reportedly reacted to statements by Eisenkot opposing a ground invasion into the Gaza Strip.
“Sometimes I feel like what I am hearing is a meeting of the leadership of Peace Now,” Liberman reportedly said.
Since Liberman resigned from his post as defense minister on November 14, more disagreements between him and Eisenkot from before his resignation have been revealed. Eisenkot repeatedly put down Liberman’s calls for tougher action against Hamas, saying that Israel had little to gain from such moves.
“There is no place for such statements” against Eisenkot, said Netanyahu, who took over from Liberman as defense minister. “The IDF must be kept out of any political dispute.”
Netanyahu’s handling of Operation Northern Shield has faced criticism from former defense ministers Liberman, Ehud Barak and Moshe Ya’alon. On Thursday, Barak told Israel Radio that Netanyahu exaggerated the significance of the operation.
“Netanyahu is taking advantage of the operation in the North in order to sow fear,” Barak said.
“There is no need for a press conference about drilling taking place inside the State of Israel. The entire country is being kept anxious.”
Ya’alon admitted in an interview with Army Radio on Thursday morning that he knew about Hezbollah digging tunnels across the border into Israel two years ago, but denied that the tunnels existed in order to keep residents of the North calm.
“At my instruction, the IDF has been monitoring Hezbollah’s tunnel project since the end of 2014,” Yaalon wrote on Twitter. “It is correct that there are no tunnels that reach Israeli communities. It is correct to keep residents calm. It was not right to reveal to Hezbollah that we were monitoring their tunnels.”
Netanyahu’s office chose not to respond to Barak or Ya’alon.
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