Public spat between Eisenkot, IDF ombudsman must stop, MK says

Nahmias-Verbin, a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, wrote the letter after Brick told members of the panel last week not to trust what IDF officers tell them.

Gadi Eisenkot at a memorial for the 73 soldiers who died when two helicopters crashed en route to southern Lebanon in 1997. (photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
Gadi Eisenkot at a memorial for the 73 soldiers who died when two helicopters crashed en route to southern Lebanon in 1997.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)
Repeated public disagreements between departing IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and IDF Ombudsman Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yitzhak Brick about military preparedness must come to an end, Zionist Union MK Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in his capacity as defense minister.
Nahmias-Verbin, a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, wrote the letter after Brick told members of the panel last week not to trust what IDF officers tell them and to examine their statements on their own.
In a text message sent on Saturday, Brick reiterated the message he had relayed in the committee meeting: “Your reliance on conversations with senior commanders will not give you the true picture. Many of them do not know the situation. They are fed reports that are not reliable, and those who know are afraid to talk.”
Among the weaknesses Brick found in the IDF is in the upkeep of its tanks, as well as the negative consequences of firing thousands career soldiers as part of the army’s five-year Gideon Plan. In addition, he criticized the level of training and weaponry used by infantry.
Eisenkot rejected most of Brick's report, which he submitted in June, and sent his own report to the committee, stating that the military is prepared for war. The general in charge of each military sector signed Eisenkot's report.
Nahmias-Verbin expressed concern that the disagreement “went beyond a reasonable dispute and deteriorated into a battle of accusations that you must give attention. Each week there’s another deterioration in the level of the conflict. We have gone from exchanging professional disagreements to a sharp, personal dispute long ago that reached its height this week when General Brick directly contacted members of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to claim the army is lying.”
The Zionist Union MK said the dispute is about a small part of Brick’s report, and that Eisenkot said he agreed with most of it, and says the IDF is more prepared than it has been in 20 years.
She also pointed to comments by Col. (res.) Alon Madanes, who made points similar to Brick’s in a letter that leaked last week.
“There is an intolerable gap between the current chief of staff’s statements of preparedness and those of the ombudsman,” she added. “The moment the ombudsman sent us personal messages on Saturday saying the facts are not being presented to us, the defense minister must intervene.”
Last week, MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli (Bayit Yehudi) called for the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, of which she is a member, to pay surprise visits to IDF bases.
“We have to question whether the fact that Israel has refrained from carrying out a large-scale operation in Gaza is related to the defects [Brick] pointed out,” Moalem-Refaeli wrote to Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avi Dichter (Likud). “In light of this, as the body that supervises the work of the defense establishment and the Israel Defense Forces, we must examine these matters in depth, and therefore I call upon you to make a series of surprise visits to various IDF bases.”

Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.