Bennett Proposed Strike on Hamas' Tunnels in Gaza, but Netanyahu and Ya'alon Rejected Him

Education minister's proposal was made during a security cabinet meeting, where no one supported it; after proposal was made public, Netanyahu's bureau blasts Bennett for trying to 'rustle up votes in superficial political background briefings.'

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who also serves as chairman of the Council for Higher Education, in January 2016.
Bennett, who is also chairman of the CHE. "If nobody in the government cares whether higher education deteriorates, the damage will be done," said Prof. Feitelson.Credit: Alex Kolomoisky
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Education Minister Naftali Bennett proposed that Israel attack tunnels that are being dug by Hamas from Gaza to Israel. Bennett made the proposal at a security cabinet meeting over the past few weeks.

A senior Israeli official with knowledge of the details of that meeting, but who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, said that both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon rejected the idea.

Channel 2 journalist Amit Segal first reported Bennett’s proposal last night.

The senior official told Haaretz that Bennett was a lone voice in that meeting; not one minister supported his position. “It’s not even sure that Bennett himself believed in the idea he raised at the meeting,” the official said, adding that in recent meetings of the security cabinet about the tunnels, representatives of the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service registered their opposition to a direct attack on the tunnels initiated by Israel at this time.

File Photo: IDF soldiers investigating a tunnel in Gaza.Credit: IDF

The prime minister’s bureau responded sharply to the fact that the matter had been made public and criticized Bennett. “We do not discuss meetings of the security cabinet in general and operational plans of the IDF in particular,” a statement from the bureau said. “All the ministers should show responsibility and not try to rustle up votes in superficial political background briefings, which do not reflect the deep and responsible discussions in the cabinet."

The aggressive response by Netanyahu’s bureau against Bennett follows Bennett’s criticism a few weeks ago of Netanyahu and Ya’alon, when in a speech at the conference of the Institute for National Security Studies he accused them of “stagnated thinking” on diplomatic and security matters.

Officials close to Ya'alon said that cabinet ministers must stop making "childish, uninhibited and irresponsible remarks, while deceiving the cheating the public. This phenomenon of ministers willing to drag the country to war out of cynical political motives, simply jeopardizes Israel's security. If we are required to go to war, we will, but war isn't child's play and not something to trade for votes, or for making headlines with vapid slogans. We're dealing with human lives. The activities against the tunnels are comprehensive, and include the best of our troops and technology. This madness must stop."

About a week ago in an interview on Israel Radio, Ya’alon hinted at a dispute in the cabinet regarding the Hamas tunnels. "Let's leave these discussion to behind closed doors," he said. "It might be suggested now to go and attack the 100,000 Hezbollah rockets in the north, or the hundreds of missiles that Iran is aiming at us. On this matter one must show good judgment and responsibility.”

Last week, the state comptroller submitted a draft report on the threat posed by tunnels from the Gaza Strip into Israel, which found deficiencies and gaps, some described as serious, in the country's preparedness.

The draft, submitted prior to completion of his full report on 2014's Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, was prompted by the "apparent urgency of the tunnel issue on all fronts." The comptroller’s office regards the draft’s findings and conclusions as being a wake-up call for the political and defense echelons.

Click the alert icon to follow topics:

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.

Subscribe today and save 40%

SUBSCRIBE
Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

Crowds at Israel's Ben-Gurion International Airport, in April.

U.S. Official: West Bank Entry for Palestinian Americans Unrelated to Israeli Visa Waivers

Haaretz spoke with several people who said they had fled Ukraine, arrived in Israel,  and were asked to undergo DNA tests in order to establish paternity.

'My Jewish Grandmother Has a Number on Her Arm, Why Does Israel Greet Me This Way?'

FILE PHOTO: A Star of David hangs from a fence outside the dormant landmark Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh's Squirrel Hill neighborhood in 2021.

American Judaism Is in Decline. That's Great News for American Jews

People taking part in the annual "March of the Living" to commemorate the Holocaust, between the former death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau in Oswiecim, Poland, four years ago.

It’s Not Just the Holocaust. Israel Is Failing to Teach the History of the Jews

 A Jewish cemetery in Warsaw, Poland.

Israel and Poland Fight Over History, Truth - and Israeli Students

A collage of the Bentwich family throughout the generations.

Unique Burial Plot in Jerusalem Tells Story of Extraordinary Jewish Dynasty