Stop the mudslinging

Interface between the government and the military needs to be smoother and more effective.

February 26, 2017 22:23
3 minute read.
IDF soldiers take part in Operation Protective Edge

IDF soldiers take part in Operation Protective Edge. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)


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State Comptroller Joseph Shapira is expected to release a scathing report Tuesday on the decision- making process leading up to and during Operation Protective Edge.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon and former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz are expected to be at the center of the comptroller’s criticism.

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One of the sections of the report expected to be most controversial deals with concerns that the security cabinet was not warned by the prime minister, the defense minister or the IDF chief of staff of the threat posed by Hamas’s tunnel network ahead of the seven-week offensive in the summer of 2014.

The report is also expected to criticize the trio for failing to warn the security cabinet that the chance of war with Hamas was high, and for not providing sufficient information to the ministers during the operation. Nor, apparently, was the security cabinet offered a range of alternatives to choose from.

The document’s publication will inevitably trigger mudslinging and infighting. Opposition politicians will attempt to use it to disparage members of the coalition. Those who come under criticism will attempt to deflect it by delegitimizing the report, or flying off the handle at their detractors. The points raised by the Comptroller’s Office will be lost in a babel of competing voices.

Already, Netanyahu, Ya’alon and Gantz have lashed out privately at Shapira and Comptroller’s Office Security Division head Yossi Beinhorn, who was involved in preparing the document. Some of them have claimed that the report is a “political document” with political goals.

Ya’alon posted on his Facebook page on Sundya that it was a “lie” and “nonsense” that the political echelon was not provided with information by the military.

Gantz, who has not rejected the possibility that he will enter politics when his three-year “cooling off” periods ends a year from now, said in public statements over the weekend that IDF intelligence before and during the operation was impeccable, and he rejected what are expected to be central claims of the Comptroller’s Report regarding flawed intelligence.

“During Protective Edge, there was intelligence that was excellent, terrific, accessible, but not always perfect,” Gantz said. “I am ready to go to the next campaign with the same intelligence that we had in the last one.”

We believe, however, that mudslinging among politicians and military personnel has no place when it comes to the safety of our civilians and soldiers and preparations for the next war.

Major issues have been raised regarding the quality of communication between the military and the political branch. It seems the defense establishment did not provide the cabinet the intelligence it needed to understand the difficulties and the tactical situation. As a result, the ministers had difficulty making informed decisions. It also seems that alternatives to a full-fledged military conflagration were not considered, and that the operation, one of the longest in the state’s history, dragged on too long.

There is a real danger that the Comptroller’s Office’s conclusions will be overlooked as politicians and military officers fire off mutual incriminations amid attempts to exploit or debunk the report for their own narrow interests.

It is, therefore, imperative that the report be taken as constructive criticism designed to improve the decision-making process. Interface between the government and the military needs to be smoother and more effective.

Publishing the report and learning from it, is important for the health of the IDF. We must not hide the flaws and failures of Operation Protective Edge. We must discuss them candidly so that we learn from our mistakes and make sure they are not repeated.

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