First Published: 2017-02-27

Israeli officials brace for Gaza war report
Findings of two-year inquiry compiled by state comptroller expected to condemn government's conduct during costly 2014 war.
Middle East Online

Officials accused of being ill prepared for Hamas use of tunnels

TEL AVIV - Israeli politicians and ex-generals are scambling for cover ahead of the publication on Tuesday of a report expected to slam their conduct of the costly 2014 Gaza war.

The findings of a two-year inquiry, due to be released at 1400 GMT, are widely expected to inflict collateral damage on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, then-defence minister Moshe Yaalon and former army chief of staff Benny Gantz for failing to prepare for the threat posed by Hamas tunnels from Gaza, despite intelligence warnings.

For the past few days players past and present have been franticly "briefing reporters, providing leaks, and besmirching their opponents, some directly and some obliquely," as Maariv daily put it on Monday.

"Those who played politics in the security cabinet in an unprecedented way during the war will continue to do so this week," Yaalon wrote in Hebrew on his Facebook page.

The report -- 200 pages including annexes -- was compiled by state comptroller Yossef Shapira, who is in charge of assessing governance and use of public funds.

He launched his probe in September 2014, immediately after the July-August conflict between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist group which controls the Gaza Strip.

Fallout from the report is likely to pit Netanyahu against his coalition partner and political rival Naftali Bennett, head of the nationalist Jewish Home party.

Bennett has said that he and fellow members of the security cabinet were not properly briefed by Netanyahu on the extent of the tunnel threat and he therefore used his own personal military contacts to get information.

- Cabinet contention -

He later boasted that he had been the first political leader to grasp the extent of the threat.

Also weighing in is Yair Lapid, a centrist fired as finance minister in Netanyahu's previous government who sat in the 2014 security cabinet but is now a bitter foe of both Bennett and the premier.

"Even if it was not put to the security cabinet, the prime minister should have told the military to prepare a plan of action, that's his job," he said in a weekend interview with Israeli Channel Two TV.

"There was no methodology on how to deal with the tunnels."

Hamas and its allies used the tunnels into southern Israel for cross-border attacks.

The report examines "the way in which decisions were made within the security cabinet before and at the start of Operation Protective Edge", Shapira's spokesman said on Friday using Israel's codename for the assault.

A draft, released to ministers and military officials in November and leaked to media soon after, reportedly says Netanyahu and Yaalon only partially informed their inner cabinet of the threat posed by the tunnels.

A source close to Netanyahu has denied the charge.

Destroying the tunnels and stopping Gaza-based Palestinian militants launching rockets into Israel were the key declared goals of Israel's third offensive in the coastal territory in six years.

The tunnels were among the Palestinians' most effective weapons during the 50-day conflict.

Israel's military found 32 tunnels, including 14 from the Gaza Strip into Israel, according to a UN inquiry on the conflict. Hamas says it has continued to dig new ones.

The war killed 2,251 Palestinians and left 100,000 homeless, according to the UN. On the Israeli side, 74 people were killed - all but six of them were soldiers.

 

US says Assad may be preparing another chemical attack

Rouhani seizes opportunity to get closer to Qatar

New crown prince widely welcomed in Saudi Arabia

Iraq forces battle deep into devastated Old Mosul

Prime time for Ramadan on Gulf fashion calendar

Yemen cholera outbreak shows signs of slowing

Mali activists call for referendum to be abandoned

Iraqi forces control two thirds of Mosul Old City

Banned Bahraini newspaper fires staff

Assad leads Eid prayers in Syria’s Hama

Lone-wolf attacks raise concern about new trend in terror

Erdogan slams Saudi demands of Qatar as illegal

Sudan making 'positive' steps on meeting US sanctions terms

Mecca suicide bombing injures six

Gulf crisis heats up as Qatar receives list of demands

Suicide attacks kill at least three people in Mosul

Civilians killed in Iraq suicide bomb attacks

UN warns Yemen cholera outbreak could infect 300,000 by September

Putin launches deep-water phase of TurkStream pipeline

Berlin warns Ankara against meddling in religious affairs

Asian states downplay 'Russia proposal' to send troops to Syria

Iran’s Salehi urges West to save historic nuclear deal

Iran, allies mark Jerusalem Day with rallies

US-led Syria strikes kill 472 civilians in one month

Morocco dismantles 'IS-linked cell plotting tourist attacks'

France sets out tough new anti-terror law

Russia warships, submarine strike IS targets in Syria

Trump-Saudi ties help pave way for new Saudi crown prince

Makeshift clinic saves lives near Syria’s Raqa

Egyptian fuel helps restart Gaza power station

Rights groups say Morocco protest leader 'severely beaten' during arrest

5 killed in Mogadishu car bomb attack

UN experts urge Egypt to halt executions after 'flawed trials'

Qatar emir congratulates newly-appointed Saudi crown prince

Kushner hails 'productive' Palestine-Israel talks

Macron says removing Assad no longer priority in Syria

Turkey sends first aid ship to isolated ally Qatar

Iraq PM says IS admitting defeat in Mosul

Egypt delivers fuel to ease Gaza electricity shortage

Saudi Arabia named after ruling dynasty

Turkey detains catering boss after army food poisoning

Israel says will unleash 'unimaginable power' in future Lebanon war

Brussels nail bomber identified as Moroccan

Saudi stock market bullish on new heir

Lebanon's Salame to be new UN Libya envoy