Analysis

A Difficult Day for Israel's 'Mr. Security,' but That's the Least of His Worries

While the state comptroller's report will be quickly forgotten, Gaza will be there for the next confrontation.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Like a child shouting: 'You’re the worst parents in the world.'
Olivier Fitoussi

The state comptroller’s report is depressing. When we imagine the shouts of joy and the schadenfreude in government ministries in Gaza, and when we watch as senior politicians clash and exchange recriminations, our distress only grows. And there’s no tunnel at the end of which is a light that’s not flashing a warning of the next war in the south.

According to the report, the prime minister and defense minister were derelict in their supreme duty – to do everything possible to prevent war. After the war started, they failed in their main task: to seek an end to it quickly, with a minimum of casualties and a decisive outcome. The Israel Defense Forces chief of staff at the time is taking harsh criticism over the functioning of the army, and the cabinet is said to have failed to fulfill its purpose, consciously or unconsciously.

>> Gaza War: 11 Key Headlines From Scathing Report Rattling Israel's Politicians and Military >>

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the report the way he knows best: First of all, he personally insulted State Comptroller Joseph Shapira, who, unlike Netanyahu, “does not defend the security establishment.” So pathetic. Like a child who responds to a punishment from his parents by shouting: “You’re the worst parents in the world.” He continues to entrench himself in his version, which has been rejected out of hand, by which his preliminary actions to deal with the tunnels were impeccable.

No entity, institution or individual came away unscathed from Shapira’s assault, except Education Minister Naftali Bennett who brought his own intelligence, pressured, checked, queried and pestered about the tunnels. If not for the evacuation Tuesday of nine illegal houses in Ofra – which to Bennett’s voters from Habayit Hayehudi is much more important than the praise he won from Shapira – he could say he had a fantastic week.

Then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, publishing his response by video, said the cabinet had been “superficial, populist and political,” the “worst” he had seen in 20 years. Even if he’s right, foisting responsibility onto his colleagues hardly adds to his dignity. His main asset, the one meant to serve him when he returns to leadership – his expertise in security, which combines taking responsibility, good judgement and military experience – took a body blow Tuesday. The same is true for former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.

The state comptroller’s report will be quickly forgotten. That’s the way of the world. Gaza, whose strategic significance was never discussed in the cabinet, with its growing humanitarian distress, Hamas rule, tunnels penetrating Israeli territory, thousands of precise missiles, drones and other delights, will be here for the next confrontation.