Netanyahu Denial Fails to Stem Protective Edge Furor

Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MK Naftali Bennett. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s denial about mishandling of Operation Protective Edge did not succeed in quelling persistent demands for an official inquiry from various quarters on Tuesday.

Netanyahu addressed the specific charge that the Cabinet had failed to respond to the Hamas tunnels threat at a press briefing on Monday, insisting that it had been discussed several times prior to the 2014 war in Gaza and the IDF had been instructed to act against them.

“The claim that we were not prepared and we didn’t know about the tunnels is the opposite of the truth,” Netanyahu said.

However, on Tuesday Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) again faulted Netanyahu for not admitting to mistakes made at the time.

“Every platoon leader draws conclusions at the end of an exercise in order to prevent future mistakes and to improve,” Bennett said. “What is true for an infantry division is doubly true for the diplomatic-security leadership of the state of Israel.”

Bennett made an issue of the tunnels at the outset of Protective Edge, and paid highly publicized visits to IDF units in the field to highlight the problem. He followed up with criticism of Netanyahu on the matter on several occasions.

Netanyahu’s Likud party snarled back later in the day. An unnamed Likud official said that Bennett’s accusations were a “total lie.”

“Bennett’s comments sound nice. It’s a shame it’s a total lie,” he said.

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid on Tuesday joined those urging the government to make public a state comptroller report on the 50-day conflict.

“There were serious failures in reporting to the security cabinet and in the decision-making process. I call upon the state comptroller to publish the report as soon as possible; the families deserve to know and the Israeli public deserves to know,” said Lapid.

“The prime minister claimed yesterday there were no failures and no mistakes. I join the call by Education Minister Bennett who said to the prime minister that by denying mistakes and trying to hide faults we can’t learn the lessons of the operation,” he added.

Netanyahu’s statement were in answer to a demand from 32 bereaved families to establish an indpendent panel to probe the operational and planning failures in Operation Protective Edge.