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Did leak of army’s grim Gaza assessment harm Israel’s deterrence?

A row has been raging since Tuesday night over who leaked reports from a cabinet meeting last week detailing the army’s assessment of what re-invading Gaza would cost.

According to the Channel 2 report Tuesday night, army chiefs briefed ministers last week that retaking Gaza would cause thousands upon thousands of Palestinian deaths, cost the lives of hundreds of Israeli soldiers, have a devastating effect on the Israeli economy, and require five years if all terror threats were to be uprooted. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly asked his ministers if any of them supported the idea, and not one of them raised a hand, the TV report said.

On Army Radio this morning, Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beytenu) argues that the publication of this assessment was devastatingly detrimental to Israel’s deterrent capability. He says Hezbollah, Iran, and all other groups hostile to Israel now believe that Israel didn’t have the will to destroy an organization much less threatening and powerful than they are. He says that all ministers should be required to take a lie detector test to ascertain the source of the leak, and that the prime minister should be “the first in line.”

Energy and Water Minister Uzi Landau, October, 2012. (photo credit: Yoav Ari Dudkevitch / FLASH90)
Uzi Landau (photo credit: Yoav Ari Dudkevitch/Flash90)

On the show, it is hinted that the leak may have come from the Prime Minister’s Office, since Netanyahu would have an interest in showing that none of his colleagues was prepared to push for a far wider ground offensive than the one he oversaw, despite the fact that publicly, some of them had been calling to smash Hamas. Some media reports yesterday also asserted that Netanyahu’s office was responsible.

The radio program reports that on Tuesday night, when the details of the army’s assessment were broadcast on Channel 2, this produced much dismay among ministers, and that Tzipi Livni immediately demanded an investigation, including the use of lie detectors to ascertain the source of the leak, but that Netanyahu dismissed the idea, saying that far worse things had leaked from cabinet meetings.

Udi Segal, the Channel 2 reporter who broadcast the details of the army assessment on Tuesday, has just called into the Army Radio program to castigate those of his fellow journalists who he says are undermining a free discussion by focusing on who may have leaked the information to him. There’s one thing he wants to make clear, he says: the leak did not come from the Prime Minister’s Office.

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