Frustrated with cabinet leaks, Eisenkot said to call for probe, polygraphs

War cabinet observer, who was critical of the prime minister in a recently leaked letter, said he would readily cooperate with a Shin Bet investigation

Minister Gadi Eisenkot, a war cabinet observer, attends a conference at Reichman University in Herzliya, February 6, 2024 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90).
Minister Gadi Eisenkot, a war cabinet observer, attends a conference at Reichman University in Herzliya, February 6, 2024 (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90).

War cabinet observer Gadi Eisenkot proposed that the Shin Bet investigate the recent leak of his warning letter to the high-level forum using polygraph tests among other means, according to media reports.

“Let’s all go get a polygraph test,” Channel 12 on Wednesday quoted Eisenkot as telling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Unity head Benny Gantz. “I suggest – any investigation you want. The Defense Ministry security authority, the Shin Bet, whatever you want. I will be the first to get checked, along with my team.”

Netanyahu and Gantz reportedly agreed, saying they would submit to such an investigation. The prime minister in January also urged that war cabinet members should be subjected to polygraph tests, saying the forum has “a plague of leaks.”

He claimed at the time that he had ordered the drafting of a bill that would require “everyone who sits in cabinet and security discussions, including political and professional ranks, to undergo a polygraph.”

Eisenkot’s call came after he reportedly sent a letter on February 12 to other members of the war cabinet warning that they were failing to make operational decisions and, therefore, the strategic goals of the war against Hamas were stalling.

“I have already circulated four documents; this is the fifth,” the former IDF chief of staff told his colleagues on Tuesday. “Not a word has come out [till now]. This is the first to come out. I circulated it to the limited forum — you all do that all the time. Why did this leak?”

Gantz reportedly responded, jokingly: “Why don’t they leak my documents? It’s a bit offensive.”

Minister Benny Gantz at a press conference at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, February 21, 2024. (Contact Productions)

A report on Channel 12 news Monday evening said Eisenkot’s leaked letter contained a warning that “there is increasing difficulty in achieving the goals of the war.”

“No determinative decisions have effectively been made in three months. The war is conducted in accordance with tactical objectives, without meaningful moves to achieve strategic objectives,” Eisenkot, a National Unity party member, was quoted as writing.

Eisenkot, whose son and nephew were both killed fighting in Gaza in December, laid out in the letter what he believes Israel has and has not accomplished since declaring war on Hamas following the terror group’s devastating October 7 onslaught. Goals that it has partially achieved included reducing Hamas’s capabilities of governance, returning the hostages, and returning security to border communities, he reportedly wrote.

The network said he concluded the letter with a criticism of  Netanyahu for his repeated insistence that Israel will achieve “total victory” over Hamas.

“I am convinced that all cabinet members are interested in achieving total victory,” he was reported to write. “Together with the prime minister’s comment that total victory will be obtained within months, and with the understanding [this remark] was not only meant for propaganda purposes, it’s right to seriously deliberate this concept and clarify it operationally.”

On February 8, the Kan public broadcaster reported similar criticism by Eisenkot, who accused Netanyahu of wasting time in the war against Hamas and expressed concern that major decisions were being made unilaterally, when they were made at all.

In response, an Israeli official told The Times of Israel that Netanyahu was responsible for intensive debates and studies being performed on the future of Gaza.

Eisenkot also criticized the war effort in January, saying in an interview that it was accurate to speak of far-reaching success over Hamas in northern Gaza, but “whoever speaks of the absolute defeat [of Hamas in Gaza] and of it no longer having the will or the capability [to harm Israel] is not speaking the truth. That is why we should not tell tall tales.”

Sam Sokol contributed to this report.

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