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Special report: Netanyahu and the defense establishment’s failures in the 2014 Gaza war

AJN.- The report cites major failings from the prime minister, defense establishment, security cabinet, and others which could have cost the country dearly.

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Israel: Durísima crítica a la conducción de la Guerra de Gaza y la amenaza de los túneles de Hamas
AJN.- State Comptroller Joseph Shapira published his landmark report on the conduct of the 2014 Gaza war and the Hamas tunnel threat on Tuesday, accusing a wide range of the political and security establishments of major failures.

The 50-day war led to 74 deaths on the Israeli side, a number of whom were soldiers killed by Hamas tunnel surprise attacks. It also included 4,251 rockets being fired upon the home front – paralyzing the South, briefly halting flights at Ben Gurion airport and leaving most of the country’s regions a target at one point or another.

The report found that the tunnel threat, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-defense minister Moshe Ya’alon had defined as “the highest level strategic and significant threat,” had only been presented to the cabinet “in general and limited statements which were insufficient to clarify the severity of the threat and to establish the necessary level of awareness for the rest of the cabinet.”

In fact, the report found that only after the cabinet meetings on June 30, 2014 and the first meeting in July, 2014, only days before war broke out, could the cabinet understand the severity of the tunnel threat.

Shapira also slammed the security cabinet ministers themselves for failing: failing to show interest, failing to request a wider presentation on the tunnel threat and failing to demand that the IDF present a plan for counteracting the threat.

The report also blasted Netanyahu, Ya’alon and then IDF chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz for not initiating any discussions with the cabinet on how they proposed to counteract the tunnel threat in the event of hostilities.

A significant aspect of these failures was that the defense establishment repeatedly refused to cooperate with or delayed cooperation with the National Security Council, whose primary job is to keep the cabinet fully informed and prepared for all major war and peace issues.

Shapira wrote that even the trio at the top of the hierarchy, and the intelligence chiefs who knew the level of the threat, did not invest enough resources or properly prioritize the tunnel threat.

Even once they started to treat the tunnel threat more seriously, too little was done too late, said the report.

Shapira’s conclusions and criticism may threaten to topple Netanyahu or to permanently wound his “Mr. Security” image, making him far more beatable politically when the next election comes along.

The report’s conclusions also could tarnish the reputations of Ya’alon, Gantz, former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) Director Yoram Cohen and former National Security Council chief and current Mossad Director Yossi Cohen. The findings could also serve as a campaign boost for Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Yesh Atid party leader Yair Lapid in attacking Netanyahu.

On Monday, Lapid pressed Netanyahu to face his mistakes and opposition leader Isaac Herzog slammed both Netanyahu and Lapid for errors described in the report, while Bennett has been Netanyahu’s most consistent critic on the issue and the focus of Netanyahu’s counterattack.

In leaked transcripts of the security cabinet’s meetings from the war, Bennett is shown coming into repeated confrontation with Ya’alon over the need to provide more information, and with Gantz over Bennett’s desire for him to present more aggressive options for using force against Hamas.

Some key figures in the report who are likely unscathed are then IDF intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, who is hit with heavy criticism, but has already been promoted to be IDF Deputy Chief-of-Staff in-waiting, and former Mossad director Tamir Pardo, who is frequently mentioned without being criticized. Then head of Southern Command Maj. Gen. Sami Tourgeman also is portrayed as showing insight regarding the tunnel threat.

Two major political forces who blasted Netanyahu regarding his conduct of the war in the past, but have been more silent recently, are Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who must tread lightly since he moved from the opposition to a top ministry job, and former top Likud minister Gidon Sa’ar.

The report is so significant that most of the above figures and a number of others have been waging a media battle of leaks about the report dating back nearly nine months.

In May, Shapira asked that the state prosecution investigate who leaked drafts of the report, which were under gag order until February 28.

The Justice Ministry told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that it is still reviewing the leak issue. When pressed for even basic details about the status of its review nine months after it opened, the ministry refused to provide any detail, including whether the issue had become a full criminal investigation or was a mere review.

To try to protect his stature, Netanyahu even held an approximately four-hour long session with The Jerusalem Post and other media outlets, around 90% of which was devoted to his narrative regarding issues raised by the report.

Besides the tunnel issue, the other central criticisms of the report are that the war was avoidable, that at 50-days it was too long and that the security cabinet was not kept fully informed or fully consulted on big-picture strategy.

The report emphasized that the law states that the security cabinet is the ultimate authority. «The army is subordinate to the security cabinet, and is obligated by decisions that the cabinet makes regarding fateful decisions for national security,” said the report.

It also stressed the importance of the cabinet thus having all of the information available in order to make key decisions. «In a democratic country, decisions cannot be left to a small number of decision-makers,» the report read.

The security cabinet for the 2013-2015 government did not have meetings to discuss and decide on the country’s broader strategic policy and goals toward Gaza from 2013-2014. “When it did hold meetings on global strategy, it was presented with a very limited number of options which only touched on the potential level of the use of military force,” wrote Shapira.

He continued, “It did not entertain alternative foreign policies or policies regarding the difficult humanitarian situation in Gaza, regarding which the security establishment predicted could have consequences for the State of Israel.”

The strategic meetings were held after such a delay that the IDF was forced to develop its own strategic goals beforehand which focused on military concerns and did not necessarily take into account the full range of concerns of the political echelon.

The comptroller found that “significant and necessary information… regarding significant strategic hostile activities which could potentially emanate from Gaza, major gaps in intelligence which existed at the time regarding the Gaza Strip and on the limitations on the impact of aerial attacks on the Gaza Strip – were not presented to the ministers in a sufficiently comprehensive manner” before the war.

This despite the fact that “the information was in the possession of the prime minister, the then defense minister, the then IDF chief-of-staff and the then-intelligence chiefs: the head of military intelligence and the head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).”

At the time, those relevant officials were Netanyahu, Ya’alon, Ganz, Kochavi and Yoram Cohen, respectively.

More disturbingly, the report found that had earlier homework and more serious efforts been taken prior to the war, the results could have been very different.

Besides those global issues, the report blamed Netanyahu and Yaalon for keeping the security cabinet out of strategy discussions about the country’s long-term plans for Gaza, such that the war itself was not directed to particular long-term goals.

Netanyahu, Ya’alon, Gantz, Kochavi, Yoram Cohen and Yossi Cohen were hit with criticism that they did not share all of the intelligence with the security cabinet that they should have.

Missing from the picture presented to the security cabinet was that Hamas might overreact and escalate into a full war on any given incident if Israel escalated its application of military force beyond the usual targeted responses, and the extent of the tunnel threat.

Even within the IDF, insufficient resources and attention were allocated to coping with the tunnel threat, leaving IDF forces on the front to have to come up with ad hoc solutions for destroying the tunnels, the report said.

The unnecessary length of the war, which had terrible consequences for the country, is said to be attributed to miscommunications between the political and military echelons.

The report also slammed the security cabinet ministers themselves for failing to show sufficient interest or sufficiently preparing themselves on a range of issues regarding the war.

Collectively, its conclusions call into question whether the war was a success or a failure and whether top officials’ managed war and peace issues successfully or not.

Netanyahu, Ya’alon and Gantz have mainly responded to the report’s conclusions by attacking Bennett, while not comprehensively addressing the report’s conclusions themselves.

Two exceptions are that Netanyahu has disputed the report’s conclusions that the war was unnecessary or too long, citing the extended quiet that has been achieved post-war, and he has said that the main improvements he and the IDF made post-war were missed by the comptroller.

The report on the security cabinet’s decision-making processes and the Hamas tunnel threat are the second and third parts of a four-part report by the comptroller on different aspects of the war.

The first part concluded that the security establishment had not properly prepared portions of the home front for Hamas’s rocket onslaught, while the fourth part, expected to come out soon, will discuss to what extent Israel’s use of force complied with international law.

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Argentinian President Macri visited the historical synagogue of Basavilbaso

AJN Agency.- Only a few days away of Rosh Hashana and with Iom Kipur coming soon, Mauricio Macri, President of Argentina participate of the meeting at the synagogue Tefila L’Moisés at Basavilbaso, Province of Entre Ríos.

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WhatsApp Image 2019-10-03 at 16.45.13

AJN Agency.- The argentinian President, Mauricio Macri, assisted to the Synagogue Tefila L’ Moisés de Basavilbaso, one of the olders of Argentina, making himself the first argentinian president in visit that synagogue.

Macri send his best wishes for the jewish new year celebration and added: «I want to thank you for reciving me here, in your home. For us it has been very important this years working with the community».

Claudio Avruj, secretary of Human Rights of Argentina discribed that the visit of Macri «Represents with out dudes a huge tribute to the jewish inmigration in the historic colonies of Entre Ríos and a deep recognition to the permanent support to the development of the local communities».

At meeting were present the Rabbi Sergio Bergman, secretary of goverment in Environment and Sustainable Development, and the Minister of Interior, Public Works and Housing of Argentina, Rogelio Frigerio, among others.

In a letter written by Avruj, he assured his pride for the president and remarked the pluralism and respect of Macri.

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Antisemitism/Argentina. The increase in antisemitic incidents is “fierce”

Agencia AJN.- The Asociation of Israeli Delegations in Argentina (DAIA) qualifies as «fierce» the increase in the number of antisemitic incidents in Argentina, after the anual report over the 107 percent increase during 2018 in comparation with the previous year.

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Agencia AJN.- This way was how the president of DAIA, Jorge Knoblovits, present today the details of the anual report of antisemitism, in a reunion realized in the Centro Cultural Kirchner of Buenos Aires.

Anyway, the communitarian leader said that “It is not fierce only in Argentina, it is fierce worldwide”.

“I start with an autocritic: with the results of the investigation and the results of the center of social studies, the increment of heat speeches and antisemitic acts that DAIA registerd, I think we hadn´t done enough for the memory and fighting the hate speeches beacuse the increase is fierce”, added Knoblovits after presenting the document.

Also, he remarks that “in Europe, reciently The Economist determines that 34 percent of europeans, where Shoa took place and where 6 millions died, dosen’t registres what Holocaust is”.

“In Argentina, being antisemitic and discriminating is a crime. He is punished by the Law. It is a great achievement, beacuse the communities live in peace and we know that discrimination is a crime”, highlighted the president of DAIA.

In this track, he describes that the increase of 107 percent had impulsed DAIA to develope “an app for people to can denunce this acts, not only antisemitic, any time of discrimination”.

“Also, whe put totems in subway, bus and train station, and in shopping for people to register that there is a place for register the denunces that are wecolme», afirms.

Knoblovits sustain that “many of the denunces” recibed where judicialized. “The sensation that I have is that we give judicial fight, but we are losing the culture fight. That’s the battle that we don’t want to lose. Inside the culture field, we are gonna do everything possible so we don’t have never again discrimination acts in Argentina, or at least those are gonna be fighted by us”, concluded.

Following the report, there had been 834 antisemitic acts in 2018, in comparation with the 404 reported in 2017.

The estadistics and investigation will be presented by DAIA and INADI (National Institute against Discrimination, Xenophobia and Racism).

The anual report of antisemitism was realized by DAIA with the Gino Germani Institute and the Center of Social Studies.

This year is the number 20 since the fisrt anual report published by the political organization of the argentinian jewish community, that stablished that practice in 1998.

Report shows that 68% of the incidents had place in Buenos Aires, and 32% where in the rest of the country. About the 834 reported incidents, DAIA said that 71% happend online, mostly in web sites, and 17% of that number appeares in social networks.

The report also shows that 27% of antisemitic material online had xenophobia against jews, while 18% was pushed by the events that took place in Middle East, 17% had relation with nazi simbology and jewish world domination conspiracy among other misconceptions.

Gino Germani Insitute present a poll of social perceptions of Jews in Argentina.

The poll shows that 53% of 1443 people interviewed agrees that there is discrimination against jews, while 87% didn’t know what it was the zionism.

The Report remarks that 61% agreed with the antisemitic prejudice of the «influence» of jews in international markets and 47% belives that jews are the first in not helping people in need.

The information for this poll was collected between June and July of this year.

In the presentation of the report, will join Knoblovits, the president of the Conferencia Episcopal Argentina y the bishop of San Isidro Monseñor Oscar Ojea, Néstor Cohen, who runs the investigation of Gino Germani Institute, the director of Social Center, Marisa Braylan and one of the principal investigatores, Verónica Constantino.

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