Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Yesh Atid chairman MK Yair Lapid sparred on Wednesday over the issue of the Cabinet's awareness of Hamas's terror tunnels before Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
Speaking to Channel 2 News, Lapid backed Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett's statements on the issue, saying that contrary to Netanyahu's claims, there were no in depth discussions in the Cabinet on the threat from the Gaza tunnels before the operation, in July of 2014.
“What the prime minister says is not true,” Lapid said, adding, “This is alarming, not only because the Prime Minister says something which isn't true, but because the whole essence of an IDF investigation is not to deny or try to cover up when there are discrepancies. There were no in depth discussions in the Cabinet.”
Responding to Lapid's comments, the Prime Minister's Office said they were completely wrong and that Lapid was made aware of the threat and should have studied the material.
“In complete contravention of the claims of MK Yair Lapid, the minutes show that at eight Cabinet meetings, the Prime Minister, the ISA and IDF commanders raised the threat posed by tunnels crossing under the border fence into our territory. This is exactly as the former Defense Minister and the IDF have said previously.” said a statement from Netanyahu's bureau.
“MK Lapid should have studied – for example – the description of the strength of the threat posed by tunnels crossing into our territory as it was presented to members of the Cabinet, including MK Lapid, at the Cabinet meetings held on January 12, 2014, February 16, 2014, March 13, 2014, June 16, 2014 and June 30, 2014,” the statement added.
“MK Lapid, who was a member of the Cabinet at the time of the Operation Protective Edge, should know that it is the responsibility of Cabinet members to be familiar with the material presented to them,” it concluded.
The back-and-forth follows a very similar incident between Bennett and Netanyahu just a day earlier.
On Tuesday, Bennett said that Netanyahu hid the existence of Hamas's terror tunnels from the Cabinet during 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."
The Prime Minister's Office later fired back, saying Bennett's claims were “without foundation”.
“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,” it said in a statement.