JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel’s prime minister, defense minister and army chief of staff did not update the Security Cabinet about the serious threat of Hamas tunnels from Gaza, the nation’s state comptroller said in a report on the 2014 Gaza War.
The Security Cabinet did not have enough information about the threat posed by the tunnels to make decisions about how to proceed during the war, leaving the Israeli military unprepared, Yosef Shapira wrote in the 200-page report released Tuesday afternoon.
The government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not provide the military with clear objectives for the war and also failed in the one identified objective of what was dubbed Operation Protective Edge – to identify and destroy the tunnels. According to the report, which also scored then-defense minister Moshe Ya’lon and former chief of staff Benny Gantz, the Israel Defense Forces only destroyed about half the cross-border tunnels.
The report also criticized the Security Cabinet for not holding discussions on and dealing with the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, including the collapse of infrastructure including water and electricity.
The comptroller also criticized Netanyahu for failing to consider diplomatic alternatives in Gaza and not presenting such a possibility to the Security Cabinet for its consideration.
In the year-and-a-half prior to the Gaza War, the Security Cabinet held 33 meetings on Gaza, according to the report.
Yaalon called the report “political” and said that it “examines partial aspects of the complex campaign.” He also acknowledged that the Security Cabinet at the time was “a superficial, political and populist Cabinet. A Cabinet of leaks, of speaking with two voices – one in the room and one in public.”
Netanyahu defended the handling of the Gaza conflict, saying “The unprecedented quiet that has prevailed since Operation Protective Edge is a test of the results.”
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog called on Netanyahu to resign.
“The report clearly reveals how Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Cabinet which he led failed in their role of understanding the threats, setting strategy, understanding the reality, properly preparing soldiers and civilians, particularly residents of the south,” he said.