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.

 

Hamas says US unity comments ‘blatant interference’

Power shifts again in Iraq's multi-ethnic Kirkuk

Erdogan says may shut Iraqi border at any moment

Haley: Iran must be judged in totality of its aggressive behaviour

Jobless Tunisians seek new migration routes to Europe

Syrian general accused of journalist deaths killed in Deir Ezzor

Baghdad court issues arrest warrant for Iraqi Kurd VP

Raqa liberators ready for civilian handover, on to next battle

Revolutionary Guards say Iranian missile program will continue

Turkish police hold civil society figure at airport

Erdogan calls on three major mayors to resign

ICC investigating several war crimes in Mali

Tunisian couple jailed for 'public indecency' over car kiss

Next round of Syria talks at end October

Gazans hope Palestinian reconciliation ends their woes

PSG's Khelaifi to be quizzed in Swiss World Cup probe

UN urges de-escalation in Iraq

EU says Israeli settlements illegal under international law

Kurdish independence goes from dream to dust

Female commander more than just poster girl for Raqa victory

Saudi airline flies to Baghdad for first time in 27 years

Wanted Dead: France's approach to IS jihadists

Saudi Arabia to monitor interpretations of prophet's sayings

Italy busts Libyan diesel smugglers

Khamenei vows to 'shred' nuclear deal if US pulls out

Fate of IS fighters in Raqa uncertain

Turkish Red Crescent concerned by Idlib humanitarian ‘drama’

US firm to build solar plants in Gaza

Ghost city Raqa scanned for survivors, bombs

Bahrain accuses Iran of harbouring 160 'terrorists'

Qatar says Gulf crisis hindering fight against IS

Qatar emir calls for talks on visit to Indonesia

Iraq calls on BP to help develop Kirkuk oil

Israeli forces raid Palestinian media offices linked to Hamas

French parliament is set to pass new anti-terror law

Baghdad says mission accomplished in Kurd operation

Israel says no to Palestine talks until Hamas disarms

IS territory down to almost 10% of 2014 ‘caliphate’

Over 3000 civilians flee Raqa under deal with jihadists

Ideology and objectives clash at Deir Ezzor

Erdogan gets Polish backing on Turkey's EU bid

Iranian guards commander killed in Syria

Fitch Ratings says threat to Qatar liquidity fading

Iran warns EU against new nuclear deal conditions

Turkey activists face trial next week under terror charges