Netanyahu under fire over handling of 2014 Gaza war
by Yusuf Selman İnanç
ISTANBULMar 02, 2017 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Yusuf Selman İnanç
Mar 02, 2017 12:00 am
Israel's official watchdog accused the government of not using all the diplomatic means to solve the crisis with Gaza before the war in 2014. The report, released on Tuesday by State Comptroller Joseph Shapira slams Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Cabinet for ignoring the warnings of Israeli security officials regarding the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the encircled and densely populated city. The 200-page report said the Cabinet did not even discuss alternatives, choosing instead to carry out the military operation despite the humanitarian crisis. "The political establishment, the military establishment and the intelligence bodies were aware of the tunnel threat and even defined it as strategic. Yet, the actions taken to deal with the threat did not match this definition," Shapira wrote in the report.
The report also accused former defense minister and current Mossad chief Moshe Ya'alon of not sharing intelligence with other members of the Security Cabinet. "Significant and necessary information that the Cabinet ministers required in order to make their best decisions ...was not brought before the ministers in a satisfactory manner in discussions that preceded the [war]," the report said.
Netanyahu was not pleased with the report, saying during his Likud party meeting that "As opposed to the state comptroller's report, I support the heads of the IDF [Israel Defense Forces], the GSS [Israeli IntelligenceService] and the security establishment. The truly important lessons aren't located in the state comptroller's report, and we apply them without declarations and statements to the media." Yair Lapid, leader of the opposition Yesh Atid party, who was a member of the Security Cabinet at the time of the operation in Gaza, said the report proved Netanyahu had not prepared the country properly: "The report proves beyond any doubt that the prime minister knew about the strategic threat of the tunnels but didn't order the IDF to prepare an operational plan, didn't inform the security cabinet and didn't tell the public the truth," Lapid said.
It is the first time an official report has criticized the government on the operation. However, unsurprisingly, the report focuses on Netanyahu's decisions, made without consultation, rather than the civilian deaths and the destruction of the city. Israel has, so far, chosen to ignore the consequences of the attacks. For instance, a report released in June 2015 by Israel, said the attacks on the Gaza Strip the preceding summer were lawful, legitimate and did not target civilians, arguing they only targeted militants. Regarding the attacks on Gaza, which drew harsh criticism from several international and regional actors, the Israeli government's report places blame on Hamas, which runs Gaza, saying: "The 2014 Gaza Conflict was another peak of hostilities in the ongoing armed conflict that has been waged against Israel for well over a decade by terrorist organizations operating from the Gaza Strip."
Yet, it remains a fact that the operation killed more than 2,000 Gazans. Several rights groups, including Amnesty International, accused Israel of committing war crimes.
The Israeli government, however, has denied the allegations and even stopped issuing visas for humanitarian rights group members, as of last month.