Lapid Against Netanyahu: There Were No In-depth Discussions of Cross-border Tunnels Before Gaza War

With Comptroller report imminent, Yesh Atid chairman tells Channel 2 that PM wasn't telling truth, security cabinet voted based on partial information.

A Palestinian fighter from the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, gestures inside an underground tunnel in Gaza, August 18, 2014.
Reuters

Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday of not saying the truth regarding security cabinet discussions on Hamas' tunnels ahead of the 2014 Gaza war. 

Lapid, who was a member of Netanyahu's coalition at the time, was remarking on comments made by the prime minister, who had dismissed claims that the security cabinet had failed to address the tunnels threat ahead of the fighting as false.

"There were no thorough debates on the cross-fence tunnels in the cabinet prior to July 2014," Lapid told Channel 2. "Everything that the prime minister said over the last 24 hours isn't true." 

"Since 2009 there have been discussions about the tunnels. But not in the cabinet, and the proof is that we arrived in Operation Protective Edge without a clear strategy," Lapid said. Lapid added that some of the information was kept hidden from cabinet members, and that they voted based on partial information. 

Netanyahu said the security cabinet held eight meetings in which they discussed the matter of the tunnels and how to deal with the threat in the seven months before the operation.

"The claim that no discussion was held on the tunnels is the opposite of the truth," he said of the claims that the Israel Defense Forces were not adequately prepared to deal with the tunnels.

Netanyahu comments were made in response to recent criticism over his leadership and actions, including by Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett and others that the security cabinet did not formulate strategic objectives for the operation and never held discussions concerning Hamas' tunnels dug from Gaza into Israel before the war.

A draft version of the State Comptroller's report on the Gaza fighting distributed in May related to the preparations made before the war for dealing with the tunnels, too. The report claims Netanyahu, former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz ran most of the war by themselves, while compartmentalizing information from the cabinet and concealing a large part of the details from the other ministers.