Mossad Chief Says Security Cabinet Fully Informed in Gaza War

YERUSHALAYIM -
Mossad Director Yossi Cohen (Alex Kolomoisky/Pool)

The director of the Mossad disputed the oft-repeated allegation that members of Israel’s security cabinet were not provided with sufficient information in the days before and during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014, Ynet reported on Sunday.

Yossi Cohen, currently chief of the Mossad, who was at that time head of the National Security Council (NSC), told the Knesset’s State Control Committee that while mistakes were certainly made by himself and others, the charge made in the recently published Comptroller’s report and elsewhere, that ministers were not properly briefed, is untrue.

“I think the Cabinet members had plenty of information, even in the months beforehand,” Cohen said. They were briefed by the Military Intelligence Directorate, the Shin Bet, the defense minister and the prime minister, numerous times during the war, he said.

“It’s difficult for me to accept that the members of the Cabinet did not know, understand, or were not supplied with enough information. I think that when such a sharp statement is being made about a subject and it is not sufficiently clarified, every Cabinet member can just raise his hand and say ‘I want to learn more about this.’”

“There was no issue we did not know about. There was no such thing. The tunnel issue was discussed. The humanitarian issue in Gaza was discussed. The strategic alternatives were discussed. Everything was discussed.”

The Comptroller also criticized the army for lack of coordination and a faulty decision-making process, and it was presumably that which Cohen had in mind when he assured committee members that “every lesson will be learned…so that we will be better prepared for the next battle, in which we will hopefully achieve more of what we aim for.”

When asked if he thought the NSC did the best it could at the time of the war, Cohen answered, “Do I think I did the best I could? I think I did. Did I make mistakes? Sure I did. Are there lessons in the report which I personally have to learn? Absolutely, yes. Internal assessments in the Mossad are held every day, so I’m not in the position to attack a report or my criticizers.”

“The lessons are what’s important. It’s not the most pleasant thing to be criticized in a comptroller report, certainly not when there are people present in the room who were personally hurt by those actions, bereaved families you need to face, but every lesson will be learned. I should also note here that the NSC keeps improving, but there are of course things that still require improvement.”

Cohen also noted that two of his own children served as officers in the IDF and could well be in harm’s way in any future conflict, indicating that he takes the decision-making responsibility most personally.