Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was criticized by Israel’s state comptroller, the government’s main watchdog, over what it said was a lack of preparation and cabinet consultation over a network of Hamas tunnels that confounded the IDF in the 2014 Gaza war. Released by State Comptroller Joseph Shapira, the long-awaited report accused Netanyahu and his defense and intelligence chiefs of failing, prior to the war, to make Israel’s security cabinet aware in a timely fashion of the strategic threat they knew the Hamas tunnel network presented to the Jewish state. Ahead of the report’s release, Netanyahu rejected the accusations leveled against him and proclaimed during a meeting of his ruling Likud party, that his “first responsibility” was “to take care of the security of the state of Israel and its citizens,” and that no security cabinet in the history of the Jewish state was better informed of Israel’s enemies.
“My first responsibility as prime minister is of course to take care of the security of the state of Israel and its citizens. This is what we did in Protective Edge operation. We hit Hamas hard, it was the hardest hit it ever suffered. We killed about 1,000 Hamas terrorists, its top commander, we brought down the towers of terrorism, we acted with force, in responsibility and in full cooperation between the political and military echelons. No Israeli cabinet was better informed,” said Netanyahu.
Netanyahu added that contrary to the comptroller’s report, he supported the heads of the IDF, Israel’s intelligences services – the Shin-Bet – and the defense system. “Contrary to the comptroller’s report, I give back up to the heads of the IDF, the Shin-Bet (Intelligence services) and the defense system, who protected and are protecting the citizens of Israel. Our warriors and commanders fought bravely and the people of Israel are proud of them,” added Netanyahu.
The report also pointed a finger at Israel’s military, saying it had failed to prepare a proper and detailed strategy to destroy the attack tunnels Hamas established on the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, and that it improvised ways to deal with those tunnels only as the fighting progressed. Hamas militants also used a tunnel network it established throughout the Palestinian enclave to move between positions and attack Israeli soldiers during the conflict. Since the war with Hamas in 2014, Israel has begun construction of an underground barrier along the frontier with the Gaza Strip that is meant to block attack tunnels, a move Israeli defense experts said would cripple Hamas’s ability to perpetrate cross border attacks against the Jewish state.