PM Netanyahu, Ya'alon and Gantz in the South.
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
Israel’s political establishment is waiting with anticipation for the release of what some are calling a scathing report by the state comptroller about flaws in the execution of the 2014 war against Hamas by the three main protagonists – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, and then-IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Benny Gantz.
Channel 2 and the liberal daily Haaretz reported on Thursday that the report will include harsh criticism of all three figures. Those who have seen the contents of the report say that it is more damning than the Winograd Commission report which probed the Olmert government and the army’s handling of the 2006 Lebanon conflict.
Aides to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday assailed the comptroller, retired judge Yosef Shapira, for leaking details of the report to the press.
“This report is not a serious one, written by a comptroller who isn’t serious and who looks to generate newspaper headlines and leaks the main points of the report before it is released,” a source close to the premier said. “We reject the claims in the report if indeed this is what appears there.”
The comptroller’s report is said to levy criticism at Netanyahu and Ya’alon for failing to keep the cabinet in the loop regarding the defense establishment’s warnings of possible renewed conflict with Hamas in the days leading up to Operation Protective Edge.
The report also faults the Netanyahu government for not convening to discuss the threat posed by Hamas’ network of underground tunnels.
The comments from the Netanyahu camp ignited a political storm on Friday.
Gantz said on Friday that he “only received the draft [of the report] 24 hours after it was delivered to the media." He added, "I can say that Operation Protective Edge was conducted in a responsible and balanced manner."
Gantz was responding to criticisms that were written about him in the report, which faulted the military for allowing the war to last longer than expected despite estimates provided by the political echelon.
Additionally, Gantz is reportedly criticized in the document for failing to accurately gauge the severity of the Hamas tunnels and their central role in the terror organization's attack strategy after uncovering the first tunnel on the initial day of Operation Protective Edge.
Shapira, meanwhile, called on Netanyahu and Attorney General Avihai Mendelblit to evaluate the leak of the report on military and political conduct during the operation.
Netanyahu's critics took the opportunity to slam the premier for the operation's results and his handling of it. Yisrael Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman, who was a cabinet member at the time of the operation, wrote in a Facebook post that Israel's leadership, headed by Netanyahu and Ya'alon, avoids taking responsibility for their decision-making and is unable to deliver on their promise to provide security to the citizens of Israel.
"Netanyahu is a champ at placing responsibility on others," Liberman wrote.
Opposition lead Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) also responded to news of the leak.
“Then, as now, the all-talk cabinet is busy with sloganeering against Hamas instead of hitting those in charge of Hamas,” he wrote in a post on his Twitter account. “It appears that not everyone that screams manages to frighten people. Instead of trying to defeat the comptroller, who is a serious man, [Netanyahu and Ya’alon] should preoccupy themselves with defeating Hamas.