Netanyahu with Barak - Emil Salman - 14082011
Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak Photo by Emil Salman
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered Israel's top security bodies to keep mum about intelligence information gathered prior to the terror attacks in the south two weeks ago, it emerged on Sunday.

Military Intelligence chief Major General Aviv Kochavi appeared before the Intelligence and Secret Services on Sunday and was asked to brief its members on the series of terror attacks in Israel's south two weeks ago and the way the IDF dealt with the intelligence warnings received beforehand.

It was then revealed that the prime minister and the defense minister had the Shin Bet security service and Military Intelligence withhold information regarding the attack from Knesset members.

MK Shaul Mofaz, chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, was enraged by the revelation and released a rare statement saying the decision by Netanyahu and Barak could "deliberately and significantly damage the subcommittee's ability to actively supervise Israel's security and intelligence bodies. It is clear that the decision is not professional and involves foreign interests."

Sources in the committee pointed out Netanyahu and Barak's decision to allow Egyptian military units in to Sinai without the Knesset's approval – and the recent row between Netanyahu and Mofaz over Israel's unpreparedness for the Palestinian independence bid – as further examples to the breakdown of relations between the Israeli security apparatus and the committee that is charged with its oversight.

"The subcommittee meeting was supposed to begin with a review on the attacks in the south," said a member of the committee, "but instead the Shin Bet representative told the MKs 'sorry, I can't talk to you about these concrete issues, I received clear instruction.'"
Officials at the Defense Ministry confirmed Sunday that the head of the intelligence wing and the Shin Bet representative were instructed not to cooperate with the committee on the matter.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement that it is "sorry that MK Mofaz is trying once again to turn the the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee and its subcommittees into part of a petty political game aimed at helping him in personal struggles.

"Intelligence and operational briefings of events take place first inside the operational units and then among the intelligence bodies," said the statement. "The results are presented to the IDF chief of staff and only then to the Knesset subcommittees. That is how it always was and it will remain so in the future."