Gantz submits proposal for state investigation into October 7 invasion and Gaza war

Head of the National Unity party urges commission of inquiry after delivering ultimatum saying he’ll quit government unless Netanyahu lays out postwar plans

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and war cabinet minister Benny Gantz at a press conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, October 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and war cabinet minister Benny Gantz at a press conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, October 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP)

National Unity leader and war cabinet minister Benny Gantz submitted Sunday morning to the cabinet secretariat a proposal for a government resolution to establish a state commission of inquiry into the events surrounding the October 7 Hamas invasion and massacre and the subsequent, ongoing war in Gaza.

The commission, if be approved, would examine political, military, and intelligence decision making before, during and after the October 7 atrocities.

Critically, against the backdrop of the intense scrutiny by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the commission would also examine whether Israel has met its obligations under international law in prosecuting the war, which could head off the ICC’s weighing of arrest warrants against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

Given the severe political tensions between Gantz and Netanyahu, and Gantz’s threat to quit the government by June 8 if the prime minister does not detail who should govern Gaza after the current war ends, it appeared unlikely that the proposal will be adopted by the Netanyahu-dominated cabinet.

State commissions of inquiry can be established by a government resolution or by the Knesset’s State Control Committee, and are independent panels whose members are selected by the Supreme Court president from among serving or retired Supreme Court or district court judges.

“All the events that preceded the war will be investigated within the framework of the state commission of inquiry, [plus] decision making in the political and military echelons, and actions during the time of war itself,” National Unity said in announcing Gantz’s request for the commission.

Palestinian terrorists take control of an Israeli tank after crossing the border fence with Israel from Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, October 7, 2023. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The commission would examine the policy and decision-making processes of security and intelligence agencies as well as government ministries regarding protecting the border region with Gaza before the war, and how they responded to the events on October 7 and during the ensuing war.

Also under investigation will be “compliance with the obligations imposed by international law on the State of Israel in the conduct of the war,” the proposed government resolution says.

The commission would have to “establish findings and conclusions” and submit a report on its findings to the government.

“The establishment of a state commission of inquiry will send an important and unifying message to the Israeli public that the entire government and security establishment and those who head them are committed to an in-depth, objective and professional examination [of the October 7 events and their aftermath], which seeks to begin the process of national healing, restoring public trust and strengthening national resilience,” the draft proposal states.

Gantz first announced his intention to propose the commission last Thursday. Hours earlier, the IDF stated, in response to a freedom of information request, that over a period of several months last year, the prime minister had received four separate communiques from Military Intelligence warning him about how the country’s enemies were viewing the social upheaval in Israel at the time.

Netanyahu rejected the claim, countering that not only was “there no warning in any of the documents about Hamas’s intentions to attack Israel from Gaza, but they instead give a completely opposite assessment.”

Netanyahu has insisted on waiting for a state commission of inquiry to make determinations regarding the culpability of the government — which he insists cannot take place while the war in Gaza is ongoing.

Sam Sokol contributed to this report.

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