Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday evening rejected accusations by Cabinet ministers, including Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett, that Netanyahu hid the existence of Hamas's terror tunnels from the Cabinet during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014.
“Claims that Israel was unprepared to meet the tunnel threat are without foundation. It has been claimed that the tunnel threat had not been presented to the Cabinet prior to Operation Protective Edge and that the Cabinet did not know about tunnels that penetrated into our territory. This is false,” said a statement from the Prime Minister's Office.
“From November 11, 2013 until July 3, 2014, the tunnel threat was presented, in its full severity, at nine separate Cabinet meetings. The protocols show this beyond all doubt,” the statement added.
“Moreover, for six months prior to the operation, from January 16, 2013 until July 9, 2014, the Prime Minister convened six professional discussions on the issue of the tunnels. The Defense Minister, IDF Chief-of-Staff, GOC Southern Command, head of the IDF Engineering Branch, head of the IDF Technology Branch and field commanders were among the participants in these meetings.”
“At these discussions, Prime Minister Netanyahu directed that operational and technological solutions be advanced to meet the tunnels threat,” said the statement.
“On July 3, 2014, before the start of operations and two weeks before the ground incursion, the Prime Minister ordered the IDF to prepare for a ground incursion to neutralize the tunnels.”
“It is regrettable that there are those who have misled the public on substantive security issues when the facts are unequivocal and well known to those who are distorting them,” concluded the statement.
Bennett earlier on Tuesday rejected Netanyahu's claim that the Cabinet discussed the terror tunnel problem before Operation Protective Edge, saying the Prime Minister left the Cabinet in the dark about the danger of Hamas' Gaza tunnels until after they had already started Operation Protective Edge.
"Every platoon commander in the IDF draws conclusions at the end of a training exercise, in order to prevent repeated mistakes, and to improve," Bennett explained. "And that which is right for an infantry platoon, is doubly right for the state-security leadership of the State of Israel.
"For the next campaign, we are obligated to learn from our past mistakes, and not to forget them. Lessons learned in real-time are a sign of strength and self-confidence. Anyone who isn't prepared to learn from the mistakes of the past, is likely to repeat them in the future."