Gantz Forms Panel to Probe Submarine Affair, Raising Coalition Tensions

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen at a welcoming ceremony for the new Rahav submarine at the navy base in Haifa, in 2016. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz announced Sunday that he has formed a committee to investigate the irregular purchase process of submarines and corvettes, an affair that has already resulted in several indictments against senior figures.

The committee will be chaired by retired District Court Judge Amnon Straschnov. Alongside him will be Yael Grill, former director of procurement at the Prime Minister’s Office – as well as Maj. Gen. (Res.) Avraham Ben Shoshan, Commander in Chief of the Israeli Navy.

The committee will have four months to submit a finalized report of its findings and conclusions.

The affair, also known as Case 3000, revolves around allegations of a massive bribery scheme in the multibillion-shekel state purchase of naval vessels from German shipbuilder Thyssenkrupp.

The scandal has embroiled several close associates of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, as well as high ranking military officials, but not Netanyahu himself, despite claims by then-Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon that Netanyahu led an improper effort to buy the submarines from Thyssenkrupp.

Gantz’s office said that the findings of the committee will be presented within four months and will be shared with the public “transparently.”

The move is seen as one that could inflame tensions with Netanyahu and imperil the unity government.

Coalition chairman MK Miki Zohar (Likud) said that Gantz’s decision to probe the submarine affair is “no less than a provocation against Likud and its leader.

“Even though Gantz knows well that Netanyahu had nothing to do with the submarine story, he is acting to besmirch him while endangering the continuation of the coalition.”

Zohar asserted that this action is “yet more proof that Gantz is dragging Israel to elections during the time of a global crisis.”