Lawmakers approve publication of report on Gaza war tunnel threat
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Lawmakers approve publication of report on Gaza war tunnel threat

Information on Hamas attack tunnels will now be included in State Comptroller document set to be released in coming weeks

MK Karin Elharar (C), MK Merav Ben Ari (L) and MK Yaakov Margi attend a press conference regarding the State Control Committee's decision to publish parts of the State Comptroller's report about Operation Protective Edge, at the Knesset on January 29, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
MK Karin Elharar (C), MK Merav Ben Ari (L) and MK Yaakov Margi attend a press conference regarding the State Control Committee's decision to publish parts of the State Comptroller's report about Operation Protective Edge, at the Knesset on January 29, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Lawmakers approved on Tuesday the publication of a section of the State Comptroller’s report detailing how Israel handled the threat of Hamas attack tunnels during the 2014 Gaza war.

This section had previously been designated classified when the rest of the report was authorized for release last month by the subcommittee on classified information, part of the Knesset’s State Control Committee.

The report relates to how the security cabinet of top-level ministers handled itself in the run up and during Operation Protective Edge.

MK Karin Elharar (Yesh Atid), who chairs the State Control Committee, said some parts of the section on the tunnels would still be redacted as it contained “information that can be used against us.”

Nevertheless, she said, the parts to be published will still reflect the findings of the full report.

Elharar also said that the decision to approve for publication the parts of the report dealing with the tunnel threat was made following “the recommendation of the State Comptroller and in coordination with security officials.”

She also said that she hopes State Comptroller Yosef Shapira will publish the report sometime in the coming weeks. No date has been given for the document’s release.

IDF infantrymen congregating around a tunnel entrance in Gaza on July 24, 2014. (Courtesy IDF Flickr)
IDF infantrymen congregating around a tunnel entrance in Gaza on July 24, 2014. (Courtesy IDF Flickr)

Portions of the State Comptroller’s report that have been leaked to the press have so far painted a damning picture of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s and former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon’s failure to properly inform the security cabinet of the extent of the threat emanating from Hamas’s cross-border tunnels.

According to some of the leaks, the report is said to show bitter infighting among members of the security cabinet, especially between Ya’alon and then-economy minister Naftali Bennett.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) meets with then-IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz (center) and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (right) in southern Israel on July 21, 2014. (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) meets with then-IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz (center) and then-Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (right) in southern Israel on July 21, 2014. (Kobi Gideon/GPO/Flash90)

Part of the criticism, especially by Bennett, was already voiced during the war itself, during which he took to visiting frontline army units and discussing the war’s progress with officers in the field.

Bennett, who has since moved on to the position of education minister, maintains that he became aware of the urgency of dealing with cross-border tunnels — an issue that became the war’s main goal in its final weeks — outside the confines of cabinet discussions, including during his conversations with IDF officers, and that the threat posed by the tunnels was not properly discussed or understood in the security cabinet’s meetings.

Netanyahu and Ya’alon have denied Bennett’s claims, and criticized as “populist” his public excoriation of the army’s strategy while fighting was still underway in Gaza.

Both Bennett and then-finance minister Yair Lapid, another critic of Netanyahu’s handling of the wartime cabinet, have pushed for the Knesset to make the comptroller’s findings public, while coalition officials, particularly those close to the prime minister, have fought against releasing the report.

On Sunday, members of the subcommittee wrote Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit a letter asking him to open an “urgent inquiry” into the leaks, saying that “they may harm fundamental national interests, undermine [the subcommittee’s] classified work and its ability to make decision as required under law.”

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