Netanyahu: No to Protective Edge Inquiry

Zalman Ahnsaf

YERUSHALAYIM – Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rejected on Monday calls for an inquiry into the government’s response to the Hamas tunnel threat prior to and during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014.

Speaking to military reporters, Netanyahu dismissed allegations that the government had not addressed the tunnel problem before the war, and stated that there will be no such investigation.

The prime minister said that the minutes of the Cabinet meetings taking place in the year and a half leading up to the war contain eight discussions concerning the tunnels, including one that ended with a directive to the IDF to act against them. The last such discussion took place only two weeks before the fighting in Gaza began.

In addition, Netanyahu told the journalists that he had personally directed the IDF to solve the tunnel problem in several visits to command posts in the south.

Netanyahu also addressed the trial of Elor Azaria, the soldier who shot dead a wounded terrorist in Chevron. Netanyahu called the soldier’s father after the incident, and said he stands by his decision to do so.

“I told the father to trust the IDF, because I believe in the soldiers, the officers, the military judiciary system and the Chief of Staff. The story is being clarified in the trial and maybe we’ll find out some new things.

“I stand by every word I told the father,” Netanyahu said.

In a separate appearance Monday, before the Knesset State Control Committee, Netanyahu defended the government’s response to the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement against criticism from the State Comptroller.

Committee chairwoman Karin Elharrar (Yesh Atid) cited the Comptroller’s report, which alleged that that the various offices dealing in public diplomacy do not coordinate.

The prime minister countered with a recitation of results, which he argued were more important than bureaucratic process.

Netanyahu said that Israel has had many victories over BDS, and noted the failed attempts to get FIFA and the Methodist Church to boycott Israel.

“The BDS movement is on the defensive. Now, they’re trying to defend their ‘right to boycott,’ ” he stated.

Netanyahu came to the committee in his capacity as Minister of Foreign Affairs, and used a color-coded map of the world to illustrate the progress made in Israel’s diplomatic outreach. Stressing Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe, he expressed hope that in time support can be mobilized to reverse the “automatic anti-Israel majority” in the U.N.

As for Israel’s image in America, he claimed positive outcomes there too. He displayed a chart showing Israel and the Palestinians’ favorability ratings in the United States in Gallup polls covering over a decade. The chart showed that Israel’s public image has improved overall, while the Palestinians’ has remained the same.