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Netanyahu, Gantz reportedly tried to OK military operation behind cabinet’s back

PM, defense minister consulted with other ministers at last minute, near point of no return, TV news says without offering details on op; PMO says they acted according to protocol

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Yonatan Sindel, David Cohen/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Yonatan Sindel, David Cohen/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz tried to order a military operation without involving the high-level security cabinet, the Kan public broadcaster reported Sunday.

They then needed to quickly consult with some ministers after concerns about the mission were raised, and the operation was approved shortly thereafter, the unsourced report said.

Though they intended to entirely bypass the security cabinet panel, at the last minute Netanyahu summoned a few ministers to approve the mission — not for legal reasons, but rather for consultations due to the complexity of the operation and its possible ramifications, Kan reported.

No details were offered by the network on the nature of the military activities or on when the incident happened. Kan’s diplomatic reporter said on Monday that the report was subject to military censorship.

According to the report, the mission’s approval was almost at the point of no return when other ministers were called in.

The ministers ultimately authorized the mission, which was meant to “send a message to the other side.”

The Prime Minister’s Office called the report a “total lie.”

“Any operational activity is approved by the mechanisms and processes that have been in place for years and as stipulated by law,” the PMO said in a statement. “The Prime Minister, the defense minister, the IDF chief of staff and the heads of the security bodies are involved in the approval process.”

“Sometimes other ministers also participate in this process, in order to shed light on aspects related to their areas of responsibility or to provide additional points of view before the rule of law,” the statement continued, noting that the country’s Basic Laws list certain criteria for when an operation must be brought before the security cabinet.

By law, the prime minister and defense minister can order operations but must get cabinet approval if there is a danger that it could spark a war. However, the two ministers can assess the level of that danger by themselves and then decide whether the cabinet needs to be involved.

The report came amid recent rising tensions with Iran that have seen the two countries blame each other for attacks on their ships in the region, which caused minor damage, and also an operations-disrupting explosion at a key Iranian nuclear facility that Tehran attributed to Israel.

The developments prompted the security cabinet to hold a meeting after it had not convened for over two months due to the ongoing political turmoil that has seen a series of four inconclusive elections within two years, the latest held in March.

The report also came amid rising tensions with Palestinians, with daily clashes in East Jerusalem and dozens of rockets fired by terrorists in the Gaza Strip.

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