Ya’alon: I’m forming a new party, will run in next election

Ex-DM again slams comptroller report on 2014 Gaza war, blasts security cabinet members ‘who wanted to hurt’ him and Netanyahu

Former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon speaks at Hebrew University, on January 18, 2017 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon speaks at Hebrew University, on January 18, 2017 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon on Saturday announced plans to form a new political party to run in the next parliamentary elections.

“I’ve decided to establish a new party. I’m building political power in order to run” for national leadership, he said.

“When I got to the point when I decided to resign as defense minister, I decided that I cared about the country, and about all of our children and grandchildren,” he told the audience at a cultural event in Tel Aviv.

During the event, Ya’alon continued to criticize a scathing state comptroller report on the government’s handling of the 2014 Gaza war, which accused him and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of failing to fully apprise members of the security cabinet of the severity of the threat posed by Hamas.

Ya’alon said some of the ministers serving in the cabinet in 2014 behaved irresponsibly, and were more concerned with scoring political points with their constituents than having meaningful discussions.

“There were people in the cabinet who wanted to hurt the prime minister and the defense minister,” he said.

Released last week, State Comptroller Yosef Shapira’s report found considerable fault in the way the security cabinet was managed during the 2014 war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge.

Netanyahu and Ya’alon are said to have failed to adequately inform the security cabinet about the threat posed by Hamas attack tunnels ahead of the conflict.

Since the war, Ya’alon has been blunt in his criticism and condemnation of Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who served on the security cabinet alongside him, pillorying him as “minister of leaks.”

After the report was released, however, Ya’alon widened his scope to include the entire security cabinet.

In a YouTube video released on Tuesday, he charged the 2014 security cabinet was the “worst and most irresponsible” he had seen in 20 years of attending cabinet meetings.

He said the state comptroller probe failed to truly investigate the conflict and instead fell prey to “politicians with ulterior motives.”

Ya’alon acknowledged the campaign had not been waged perfectly, but placed the blame for its shortcomings on two factors: the unpredictability of war and the security cabinet.

In war, he said, there are always “unexpected events, unplanned developments, a bitter enemy opposing [you], mistakes and lessons that must be learned.”

State comptroller probes after the campaigns are supposed to assist in learning from past mistakes, he said. But that did not happen with the document released on Tuesday, he added.

“The [Operation] Protective Edge report became a political report,” he said. “It ignores wider considerations because it fell prisoner to politicians with ulterior motives… who sullied the process.”

Israel’s 50-day campaign against Hamas in Gaza began as a predominantly aerial campaign in response to repeated rocket attacks from the Strip, similar to the 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense. But after Hamas made use of its tunnel network to carry out attacks inside Israel, the focus shifted to tackling the subterranean threat.

By the war’s end on August 26, 2014, the IDF had targeted over 30 tunnels, of which 14 had crossed the border into Israel. Thousands of rockets had been fired by Hamas and other Gaza terror groups indiscriminately into Israel. A total of 74 people — 68 soldiers, 11 of whom were killed in cross-border tunnel attacks; and 6 civilians — died on the Israeli side of the conflict. In Gaza, more than 2,000 people were killed, with Israel putting the percentage of civilians killed at approximately 50 percent and the Palestinians estimating it to be closer to 70%.

Israel said Hamas was responsible for the proportion of civilian Gazan deaths, as the terror group embedded military infrastructure, including tunnel entrances and rocket launchers, in residential neighborhoods.

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