IDF chief slams Gaza leaks, says army is ‘not reality TV’
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IDF chief slams Gaza leaks, says army is ‘not reality TV’

Benny Gantz denounces ‘bad behavior’ after media publishes tapes that illuminate deadly Rafah battle

Mitch Ginsburg is the former Times of Israel military correspondent.

Benny Gantz visiting a training drill on November 13, 2014. (photo credit: Gadi Yampel/IDF Spokerperson/Flash90)
Benny Gantz visiting a training drill on November 13, 2014. (photo credit: Gadi Yampel/IDF Spokerperson/Flash90)

The army’s top commander on Wednesday slammed the release of audio recordings from a deadly military encounter in the Gaza Strip during the summer conflict and reportedly ordered the Military Police to investigate how the army’s internal radio broadcasts were leaked to the Israeli news site Ynet.

“It’s unacceptable in my eyes that operational recordings are released,” said Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz of the army radio transmissions of the fighting that ensued after the August 1 capture and killing of Lt. Hadar Goldin in Rafah. “And it’s not that I am hiding anything; there is first of all human sensitivity of the families, the fallen, and bodies that we are still looking for, and in addition there is behavior here that is not good.”

Speaking at the IDF induction center, Gantz stated “unequivocally” that “the army is not a reality TV show and we will not act according to ratings. We are investigating, checking professionally; we investigated and will continue to investigate.”

The partially censored recordings, first published by Yoav Zeitoun of Ynet, come just as the IDF’s Military Advocate General, Maj. Gen. Dan Efroni, is weighing whether the IDF violated the international rules of law with its response to the abduction and, even if not, whether the IDF should alter its response to the abduction of a soldier — the Hannibal Protocol — especially when the kidnapping is carried out in a densely populated urban environment.

Goldin and two other soldiers, Maj. Benaya Sarel and Staff Sgt. Liel Gidoni, were killed in the incident.

Soldiers from the Givati Brigade at the funeral of Lt. Hadar Goldin (photo credit: Oded Balilty/ AP Photo)
Soldiers from the Givati Brigade at the funeral of Lt. Hadar Goldin (photo credit: Oded Balilty/ AP Photo)

Palestinian authorities have claimed that the Israeli counterstrike in Rafah, meant to cut off all escape routes and to foil the kidnapping operation, resulted in the deaths of many innocent civilians.

The recordings bring to life, in a fragmented way, the strain of that morning and the intensity of Israel’s counterattack. “I repeat: stop firing!” Lt. Col. Eli Gino yelled at his troops, his voice rising in anger. “Stop firing! You’re firing like morons. You’re going to kill each other. Enough! I’ve got [men] dead already, retards. Hold on a second.”

Gantz, who is slated to finish his term in mid-February, acknowledged that the press has a very important role in public affairs, “but we need to restrain ourselves.”

He called for a “determined exploration” of the facts of the case and vowed to investigate where necessary.

A photo of Rafah on August 2, 2014, one day after the abduction and death of Lt. Hadar Goldin (photo credit: Hatem Ali/ AP Photo)
A photo of Rafah on August 2, 2014, one day after the abduction and death of Lt. Hadar Goldin (photo credit: Hatem Ali/ AP Photo)

Additionally, he noted that while there have been hundreds of petitions for criminal investigations in the wake of the 50-day war this summer in Gaza, there are, thus far, only eight that have been opened.

He voiced full confidence in the commanders of the Givati Brigade – the recordings are chiefly of Gino, two company commanders, and brigade commander Col. Ofer Winter – “who fought bravely and determinedly and tackled dangers and expect us to conduct the investigations the proper way.”

Mistakes would be dealt with, he said, according to NRG, and “if someone strayed and did grave and improper acts, then we will deal with that, too.”

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