Netanyahu's Approval of Submarine Sale Risked Lives, Former Defense Official Says

Amos Gilad calls the prime minister's reasoning for excluding the defense ministry from the sale of submarines to Germany 'completely unreasonable'

FILE Photo: Amos Gilad in 2017.
Motti Milrod

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to approve the sale of submarines by Germany to Egypt without the knowledge of the then-defense minister is “a frightening picture of the way we make decisions,” Amos Gilad, the former head of political-security branch in the Defense Ministry, said on Saturday.

Gilad testified to the police in the past that he found out from Germany that Netanyahu had approved the deal.

“The prime minister says: ‘I excluded the defense ministry because of some deep secret.’ Clearly this is completely unreasonable. It’s inconceivable,” Gilad told Dov Gil-Har of Channel 11.

“This is a frightening picture of the way we make decisions,” adding: “I know that in building up [military] strength there’s no such thing as a secret that the defense minister or the chief of staff doesn’t know. I believe that what he says is what he means, but it’s unreasonable.”

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When he was asked whether this decision put lives at risk, he said: “Certainly. I said this is shocking because they have responsibility. The chief of staff must take a stand.”

The affair is related to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's $2 billion purchase of German submarines built by ThyssenKrupp, a shipbuilding firm that acquired a company in which Netanyahu holds shares. The prime minister also signed off on Germany's sale of advanced submarines to Egypt, which he allegedly approved without consulting the chief of staff or defense minister.

Netanyahu was questioned but not named as a suspect in a probe related to a possible conflict of interests in the deal. Police recommended charging six suspects, including Netanyahu's lawyer and his former bureau chief, for bribery in the affair.

Two weeks ago, Channel 13 reported that Gilad attested to the police that Netanyahu had approved the sale of submarines to Egypt by Germany. A few days later, in an interview on Channel 12, the prime minister admitted that he had approved the sale without the knowledge of the chief of staff and the defense minister at the time, Benny Gantz and Moshe Ya’alon, respectively.

According to the report on Channel 13, Gilad raised objections to the sail and turned to an adviser of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He told the police that the adviser, Christoph Heusgen, said that Netanyahu was the one who had approved the deal. Germany does not need Israel’s official approval, but a policy agreement between the two countries states that Germany not sell advanced weaponry to Israel’s neighbors without a green light from Israel.