Opinion

Netanyahu's Government Should Be Ashamed of the Gaza War Report

But those responsible for a war that might have been avoided altogether - according to the scathing report of the 2014 conflict in Gaza - are busy slinging mud.

A convoy of Israeli armored personnel carrier tolls toward the Israel-Gaza border, July 20, 2014.
MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP

The comptroller’s report on the 2014 Gaza war exposed the rightist government’s real face. But instead of being ashamed, its members continue slinging mud at each other without taking responsibility. They’ve launched a campaign against the comptroller, and branded then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon in advance as an enemy, in the best new-right tradition.

On July 20, 2014 an M113-model armored personnel carrier exploded at the entrance to Shujaiyya neighborhood in Gaza. The APC, which was outdated and not sufficiently fortified (due to budgetary cuts) “caught fire and turned into a ball of fire,” as one of the senior officers in the Israel Gaza-conflict put it. Six Golani soldiers were killed – Sgt. Max Steinberg, 24, of Be’er Sheva, Staff Sgt. Shahar Tasa, 20, of Pardesiya, Staff Sgt. Daniel Pomerantz, 20, of Kfar Azar, Sgt. Sean Mondschein, 19, of Tel Aviv, Sgt. Ben Vanunu, 19, of Ashdod, Staff Sgt. Oren Noach, 22 of Hoshaya. A seventh soldier, Oron Shaul, went missing and was later declared a soldier whose burial place is unknown.

On Tuesday, the families who lost these sons sat, together with families of 61 other fallen combatants, and had to watch their political leaders engaged in a disgraceful, callous cockfight on TV. The winner gets to flee ministerial responsibility, as though it were a drowning ship. Except that these people are the ones who sunk the ship, they’re the ones who are supposed to be accountable to the families and to the rest of Israelis.

But doing that doesn’t even occur to them. About three years after the war, none of the security cabinet members called a news conference and explained, in a way an average Israeli can understand, what the war’s strategy and goals were, and where we are heading strategically and politically. Not to mention an apology or a resignation. We were left with a festival of self-serving campaigns and a host of spins, which came to an ugly head after the report was published, when the comptroller was forced, in an unprecedented step, to blast the slander campaign orchestrated against him.

But we must not let the smoke hide the truth. The comptroller says in the report that Israel – that is, Benjamin Netanyahu’s government – abandoned strategic solutions and possibilities of making arrangements that could have prevented or shortened the war. In fact, such options weren’t even brought to the cabinet, he states.

The funeral of soldier Daniel Kedmi, killed in the war in Gaza in 2014.
Moti Milrod

The Security Council adopted a resolution at the time against Hamas, consisting of rehabilitation in exchange for demilitarization and direct negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. But Netanyahu failed to present this alternative to the cabinet members. If this option had been implemented, the armed conflict may have lasted a mere few days, or not taken place at all. And we haven’t even mentioned all the lives lost in the war.

Indeed, the soldiers’ duty is to fight and when they enter a battlefield they are in danger of being killed. But the families must know, must be convinced, that the government that sent their sons to the battlefield had done all it could to prevent the most painful and horrific of all options, and that only after those efforts failed were they forced to send the soldiers – prepared and protected – to the battlefield. The families and every Israeli citizen must be convinced that death is the last option. And that perhaps at the end of the blood-soaked tunnel there’s a small light for future generations. The comptroller’s report makes it clear that this is not the case.