Netanyahu's Bureau Accuses 'Irresponsible Politicians' of Distorting Critical Gaza War Report

In an apparent change of tactics, Netanyahu's associates are now blaming his political rivals for 'leaking and distorting' comptroller's report on 2014 war in Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C), Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (R) and then-IDF chief Benny Gantz during Operation Protective Edge ,July 30, 2014.
Kobi Gideon / GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bureau on Friday accused his political rivals of leaking and distorting a draft report critical of the premier's handling of the 2014 war in Gaza.

The bureau's response to the public furor caused by Haaretz's publication of details from the report stressed that State Comptroller Jospeh Shapira, who prepared the report, had in fact commended Netanyahu's handling of the threat posed by tunnels running from Gaza into Israel.

The response signaled a change in tactics by Netanyahu's associates, who had previously attacked Shapira personally, accusing him of political persecution and lack of seriousness.

State Comptroller Joseph Shapira
Olivier Fitoussi

The draft report, which was distributed to Netanyahu and other ministers, officials and MKs for comment last Tuesday, found that the war, known as Operation Protective Edge, was primarily managed by Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and then-chief of staff Benny Gantz, who sidelined the other members of the security cabinet and withheld significant information from them.

The report is clearly critical of the overly general way in which the tunnel threat was presented to the security cabinet in the months preceding the operation, according to sources who have seen the report.

It is likewise critical of the lack of preparation and of an appropriate plan for dealing with the threat of tunnels running from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory in the event of war.

Sources close to Netanyahu claimed on Friday that the findings of the draft report were "leaked and distorted by interested parties, among them irresponsible politicians who were members of the security cabinet."

Those politicians, according to the sources, "know the truth but prefer to falsify it in order to make political capital."

The sources, who were responding to criticism expressed on Friday by former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, among others, said there was no similarity between what had been reported by the media and what was written in the draft report.

"And even this draft is bound to change in its final form, after accounting for responses," the sources said.

They added that the comptroller stated in the report that Netanyahu had defined the Gaza tunnels as a central threat long before the 2014 war and had ordered wide-ranging preparations to deal with them.

Responding to claims by associates close to Netanyahu and Ya'alon that "it's an unserious report that reeks of politicking," State Comptroller Shapira called earlier on Friday on the prime minister, the defense minister and others reviewed in the report "to focus on their draft report and give their response to it."