Six former security chiefs warned Israelis against keeping Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in office, describing him as a danger, stating that he is putting the country at risk and using sensitive classified information for personal gain, in a video published online Thursday.
The Hebrew video is the latest in a series of protests against Netanyahu by security officials past and present, as the country’s third consecutive election campaign draws to a close before the March 2 election.
The video features former Mossad spy agency heads Tamir Pardo, Efraim Halevy and Shabtai Shavit, as well as former Shin Bet security service chiefs Yuval Diskin, Carmi Gillon and Ami Ayalon, all speaking out against Netanyahu.
All six served under Netanyahu, most of them during his first term as prime minister from 1996 to 1999.
“Strategic assets, which are the basis that Israel exists on, are turned by Netanyahu into a tool to serve his ego and the price could be damaging to the continued existence of the state of Israel,” Gilon, who headed the Shin Bet from 1995 to 1996 says in the video.
“A prime minister who is not a personal example for all Israel citizens is a clear and concrete danger to the safety of the State of Israel,” says Pardo, who headed the Mossad from 2011 to 2016.
Diskin, who headed the Shin Bet from 2005 to 2010, says that indictments against Netanyahu show that he’s “lost the moral and ethical right to lead Israel against the challenges it faces.”
Only Ayalon and Halevy gave examples of the prime minister’s actions endangering Israel, though neither stemmed from their time as security chiefs: Ayalon, who headed the Shin Bet from 1996 to 2000, cited the submarine scandal, a massive bribery case that has snagged a number of Netanyahu’s associates, but not the prime minister. Halevy, who headed the Mossad from 1998 to 2002, questioned Netanyahu’s decision to hold a ceremony open to the press at the Dimona nuclear facility in 2018.
Netanyahu’s relationship with his former security chiefs has been famously prickly, with many of them, like Diskin, becoming vocal critics shortly after leaving office.
His main rival, Benny Gantz, is a former head of the Israel Defense Forces, and two of three of Gantz’s top deputies in Blue and White are also former military chiefs.
A number of petitions signed by hundreds of army officers, pilots and others, have been sent to President Reuven Rivlin in recent days calling on him not to task Netanyahu with forming a government after the March 2 vote, given the criminal indictments against him.
The video comes as both Likud and Blue and White have stepped up campaigns against each other, with Netanyahu describing Gantz as weak and susceptible to blackmail, and Gantz calling Netanyahu a corrupt liar.
Netanyahu is set to face trial starting March 17 on three counts of fraud and breach of trust and one count of bribery.
In was not immediately clear who funded or produced the video, which was published on YouTube by progressive activist Or-ly Barlev.