Bennett: Watchdog's 2014 Gaza War Report Is a Political Earthquake

Israeli education minister welcomes publication of comptroller report into Operation Protective Edge, adding that 'Israeli leaders' rigidity of thinking is the root cause of the failures.'

Education Minister Naftali Bennett at the 2017 INSS conference in Tel Aviv.
Moti Milrod

Education Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday welcomed the publication of the comptroller's report on the security cabinet's performance during the 2014 Gaza war, calling it an "earthquake" that will rock the security establishment.

Speaking at the annual Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) conference in Tel Aviv, Bennett said he welcomes the decision to publish the report, which details the threat posed by Hamas’ cross-border tunnels and the functioning of the diplomatic-security cabinet during the 50-day Operation Protective Edge, saying it clearly shows that "the rigidity of thinking among Israel's leaders is the root cause" of the failures noted in State Comptroller Joseph Shapira's report. 

Bennett added that Israel's security establishment needs to shift its outlook toward achieving clear and definitive military victories. According to Bennett, the security of Israeli citizens depends on Israel's ability to achieve such a victory. "I urge the prime minister to convene the security cabinet to discuss the lessons from the operation and the necessary fixes."

On Sunday, Haaretz reported that Netanyahu’s aides had been discussing trying to torpedo publication of the embarrassing report by arguing that publication would undermine the principles of information security.

A subcommittee of the Knesset’s State Control Committee is slated to vote on whether to declassify parts of the report on Tuesday. But even if the vote is affirmative, the report won’t be published immediately, since the defense establishment will first have to decide which material must be removed from the published version.

On Sunday, Shapira gave the subcommittee the section of the report that deals with the diplomatic-security cabinet’s work. The chapter is titled “The decision-making process regarding the Gaza Strip on the eve of Operation Protective Edge and at its beginning.” Shapira is expected to give the subcommittee the last two sections, on the tunnel threat and issues of international law during the fighting, in the near future.

Over the next few days, a political battle is expected to be waged in the subcommittee over which portions of the report to make public. The Prime Minister’s Office will apparently seek to prevent publication of certain details. A draft of the report prepared about two months ago was highly critical of Netanyahu’s performance during the war, and also of the performances of then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and the diplomatic-security cabinet.