Jewish Home Ministers Defend State Comptroller’s 2014 Gaza War Report

JUSTICE MINISTER AYELET SHAKED called for an end to criticism against the State Comptroller’s office over its report on the 2014 Gaza war.

She said the government must learn the lessons of the Comptroller’s findings.

According to Jerusalem Post, one of the officials who fared best in the report was Shaked’s Jewish Home party boss, Education Minister Naftali Bennett.

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Uri Ariel, also a Jewish Home representative, echoed Shaked’s sentiment, calling criticism of the Comptroller an embarrassment.

The 2014 Gaza war report is critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Benny Gantz. The report said the three concealed information from other cabinet ministers.

The report also said the Netanyahu government failed to exhaust all diplomatic options before heading off to war.

ISRAEL’S CONDITIONS FOR A PEACE AGREEMENT WITH THE PALESTINIANS would look different today than it would have a couple of years ago because of what’s happening around the region, Israel’s military intelligence chief said.

Israel has to have different systems in place to reach an agreement, Major-General Hertzy HaLevy told the national Israeli news broadcaster.

HaLevy said continued economic development was critical to mitigate Palestinian frustration with the political outlook.

The IDF intelligence chief’s comments came after several Israeli ministers warned that another war with Hamas was imminent.

Israel believes Hamas has built back up its arsenal, redeveloped the underground tunnel system, and sought better relations with Iran after the falling out over Syria.

BREAKING THE SILENCE handed over documents to the state about an IDF soldier being investigated for committing crimes in Gaza during the 2014 war.

The IDF soldier is suspected of committing crimes in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge (TZUK EITAN) on four separate occasions, according to Israeli radio.

Breaking the Silence, a nongovernmental group reviled by the Netanyahu government, documents alleged IDF abuses according to anonymous soldier testimonies.

A GAG ORDER WAS LIFTED on a case about a man who was arrested and charged with joining the Islamic State. The Shin bet apparently arrested the man after he’d bought a one-way ticket to Turkey. He was a member of an online pro-ISIS group.

The man, Vladimir Mazlovsky, had originally immigrated to Israel as a Jew. After serving in the Israel Defense Forces, he converted to Islam. From there, he was apparently radicalized and joined the Islamic State.

ISIS supporters carried out two casualty-heavy attacks in Tel Aviv last year, and many may be among the dozens of stabbers and car-rammers who’ve cropped up since the outset of the Stabbing Intifada in 2015.

Mazlovsky joins a list of other Israelis of different ethnic backgrounds who’ve been arrested over involvement with or fighting for ISIS.

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As Protective Edge Report Released, Opposition MK Says Israel Failing to Stop Threat from Gaza’s Hamas

OPPOSITION KNESSET REPRESENTATIVE HAIM JELIN (Yesh Atid) accused the Netanyahu government of failing to stop the Hamas threat from regrowing since the 2014 Gaza war.

Jelin said the number of tunnels leading into Israel and Hamas’ rocket arsenal are already at the levels they were at two and half years ago before the summer 2014 IDF operations in Gaza that led to the destruction of dozens of tunnels and Hamas’ weapons caches.

Jelin’s warning joins two government minsters, Yuval Steinitz and Yoav Galant, who said a confrontation with Hamas is innocent.

Jelin said the government had also failed to stop a detente between Hamas and Iran, giving no further details.

The comments by Jelin, a former regional leader in the Gaza-border communities, came on the backdrop of the State Comptroller’s report into the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, which was publicly released today.

The chairman of Jelin’s Yesh Atid, Yair Lapid, was a part of the Netanyahu coalition at the time as finance minister. Lapid has since been critical of Netanyahu and then-Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s handling of the war.

The State Comptroller report criticized IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, the prime and defense ministers of failing to prepare the Israel Defense Forces for the war. The report said Netanyahu and defense officials concealed information from other cabinet ministers. And it claimed that only half of Hamas’ underground tunnel system was destroyed, although that was one of the core missions of the IDF ground operation.

A LETTER BY BEREAVED PARENTS OF THE 2014 Gaza war accused the Netnayahu government of prematurely announcing the death of Oron Shaul, whose body was taken for ransom by Hamas militants.

Israel initially declared Shaul missing for several days before determining his death. Hamas tried to use Shaul’s body as a bargaining chip for Palestinian prisoners.

MINISTER YUVAL STEINITZ said he had been “skeptical” about the Israel Defense Forces ground invasion of the Gaza Strip during the 2014 war. The ground invasion followed some weeks of aerial barrages.

“I’m not saying I was right; I understand the other position,” he told the IDF radio station today.

“There’s a heavy price to be paid [he used this phrase in a 2014 interview with the BBC] for Israel’s independence and to protect the State of Israel,” Steinitz said, referring to the dozens of soldiers who died in the ground invasion.

PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU REJECTED the State Comptroller’s findings that information was hidden from cabinet minister during Operation Protective Edge.

The report alleges that the prime minister, along with defense officials, concealed information during Operation Protective Edge from other cabinet ministers.

After Sinwar, Steinitz Says Confrontation with Gaza’s Hamas a ‘Matter of Time’

 

ANOTHER ISRAELI MINISTER has said a confrontation with Hamas was “only a matter of time.”

Echoing Housing Minister Yoav Galant, Yuval Steinitz forewarned of a coming battle with the Gaza-based Hamas group.

The former strategic affairs minister and close confidant of Netanyahu said that Hamas’ new prime minister, Yahya Sinwar, was a “cruel” man who saw his leadership in a historic, jihadi light, and would respond to Israel in kind.

Sinwar took over the Hamas premiership this week from Ismail Haniyeh, who ruled as prime minister since 2007. Sinwar’s ascension was largely seen as the belated takeover of Hamas’ political wing by the group’s militant wing.

CHAIRMAN OF THE FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND DEFENSE COMMITTEE and former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter said it was a “shame” Israel never managed to take out Sinwar during antiterror operations.

Sinwar was freed by Israel in 2011 during the prisoner-swap deal for Gilad Schalit.

Dichter noted that Sinwar came of age as a terrorist during the First Intifada (from the late 1980s to the early 1990s) under the command of Hamas leader Salah Shehade, who was killed by Israel in 2002.

FORMER COMPTROLLER AND RETIRED JUDGE MICHA LINDENSTRAUSS said not enough measures were being taken to fight corruption on the municipal level.

“If there are good investigators, then matters are uncovered. We have to strengthen the general audit in several municipalities to boost transparency,” said Lindenstrauss, according to Israel’s national radio broadcaster.

Lindesntrauss called for a stronger judiciary to mete out punishments that match the severity of crimes. He also encouraged criminal investigations to resolve faster.

Mayors in two Israeli cities, Safed (Tsfat) and Ashkelon, are currently undergoing investigations for corruption. Law enforcement raided the Safed city hall earlier this month, arresting Mayor Ilan Shohat.

KNESSET REP. YUSUF JABARIN (Joint List) welcomed the Government Advertising Agency’s decision to post three job listings specifically for Israel’s Arab population.

He said at least 20% of the agency’s budget should go to the Arab populations, reflecting Israel’s demographics.

FORMER EDUCATION MINISTER Gideon Sa’ar said he was “taking a break” but would return to politics.

The former Likud representative said he planned to return to that party.

“When will it happen? How will it happen? Let’s wait patiently,” he told Army Radio.

Sa’ar made a shock resignation in 2014 for personal reasons.

 

Galant Says Israel Should Be Ready for a Springtime War

CONSTRUCTION MINISTER YOAV GALANT said Israel should be prepared for a war before summer.

“I’m singling out next spring as the point we have to be prepared for,” Galant, a former IDF commander, told Israel’s army radio station. He gave no further details.

His comments came after Israel struck multiple targets in the Gaza Strip, responding to attacks from Gaza.

No Palestinians were killed in the round of aerial bombings and border shelling on Monday and Tuesday. Fifteen were injured, according to Al Resalah.

Galant also mentioned the settlement-arrangement bill (now translated as, land-grab bill, in Haaretz), which passed more Knesset hurdles on Monday.

He said it was up to the High Court now to respond. The law would restrict the Supreme Court from ordering home demolitions in the West Bank..

EDUCATION MINISTER NAFTALI BENNETT said a new war was just a question of time.

“We need to open the gates of fire on our enemy so these things cease to recur,” said the education minister. “There’s no other way to triumph and overcome the enemy.”

SOON, MAKING BETS ON THE HORSE RACES will be illegal. According to government reforms, the authorities will not renew contracts with companies organizing Israeli betting on horse races that expire in August 2018.

The government is trying to end gambling on horse races even before then, within the next couple of months.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has called the revenues from horse racing “tainted money.

Gambling is mostly illegal in Israel, though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu supports building casinos in the southern port city of Eilat.

CULTURE MINISTER MIRI REGEV asked the Jerusalem mayor to shut down an NGO event about settlers and the IDF.

The event is put on by Breaking the Silence and features its director putting on a talk under the headline, “Settler Involvement in IDF Operations in the Territories.”

Regev’s order came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the Belgium president to cut funding to groups like specifically Breaking the Silence, which seeks out soldiers’ testimonials about human rights abuses in the army.