Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon issued a scathing statement on Tuesday, lambasting the cabinet which presided over the handling of Operation Protective Edge in 2014, describing it as the “most irresponsible and the worst I have ever known.”
The statement by Ya’alon, who served as defense minister during the incursion, comes just hours after the state comptroller published a report highlighting the mishandling of the incursion at the highest political echelons.
“It was a leaking cabinet, a superficial, political and populist cabinet,” Ya’alon said in a video he uploaded to the internet.
“I am proud of the fact that I stood with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz against the public frenzy and the political subversion,” Ya’alon added. “We conducted the deployment in a professional, considered and responsible manner and restored the quiet to Israel.”
Ya’alon went on to acknowledge that lessons did have to be learned from the operation. “Whoever fought and commanded knows that there is no military deployment from which we can learn. In this aspect, the state comptroller has a uniquely important job,” he stressed.
“But the report that has come out authored by him unfortunately does not allow for this is truth. The Protective Edge report has become a political report. This is a report that examines partial aspects of a complex deployment and ignores serious considerations.
However, with his own reputation and legacy at stake, Ya’alon was among a few lone voices defending the prime minister, as a deluge of comments pointing the finger squarely at Netanyahu came flooding in.
Chairperson of the Yesh Atid party, MK Yair Lapid, who then served in the Security Cabinet, said that the report “clearly concludes that the State of Israel under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu was not properly prepared for Operation Protective Edge.”
Lapid also accused the prime minister of knowing about the strategic threat of tunnels, and pointed to what he described as his failings to order the IDF to prepare and operational plan and to inform the Security Cabinet. He added that Netanyahu also failed to tell the public the truth.
“Since then the political leadership, especially the Prime Minister, has consistently refused to admit its mistakes and learn the lessons which will allow the IDF and the Security Cabinet to improve for the next operation,” Lapid said in a statement.
As a result of these failures, the statement continued, Israel embarked on the longest operation since the War of Independence with Protective Edge seeing the death of 68 soldiers and 5 civilians.
“Even after that long operation, the residents of the Gaza region continue to live under the constant threat of terror. Hamas feels it is able to face Israel and remain standing. Worst of all, nothing has been done since to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
MK Amir Peretz (Zionist Union) also offered his thoughts on the report, saying that it paints a gloomy picture. “It exposes attempts to blur the authority and the responsibility of the prime minister, who decides by himself the material which will be presented to the cabinet and its agenda,” Peretz said.
Speaking to Ynet, Peretz said that “Netanyahu says he didn’t present the cabinet with the information out of fear of leaks and this is extremely bad. If you fear that the ministers will leak information, you need to put them in their place.”
By Yoav Zitun and Alexander J. Apfel, Ynet News