Y-Net News [Israel], 12 November 2014
Gantz clashes with Shin Bet chief over warning of war
IDF Chief of Staff submits official complaint against the head of Israel’s internal security service, after Shin Bet officials claimed the shadowy group had warned political leadership of Hamas’ intentions.
* by Ron Ben-Yishai
IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz filed a letter of complaint against the head of the Shin Bet, Yoram Cohen, after seniors in Israel ‘s shadowy internal security agency said the IDF had been warned ahead of Operation Protective Edge last summer.
Credible defense establishment sources said the IDF, as the central body entrusted with the security of the state, cannot accept a situation in which another defense agency claims it had provided intelligence of an impending war – and had been ignored.
The sources added that the IDF Chief of Staff refused to allow the head of an intelligence agency to make claims counter to the statements of the prime minister, defense minister, the military chief, and the director of military intelligence – and which are not supported by any internal documents sent between the IDF and the Shin Bet and the Shin Bet and other agencies.
The IDF Chief of Staff, said one of the sources, must be able to look into the eyes of every Israeli mother and tell her he had done everything possible to prepare the IDF for a confrontation, which is why he cannot let such accusations stand – when they cast doubts on his capabilities and his responsibilities and the performance of senior IDF staff.
The unusual formal complaint arose from a clash between the military and the Shin Bet over whether or not an alert had been issued to the political echelon, when it was issued, and what it contained.
According to reports by Israel ‘s Channel 2, Shin Bet officials claim that they had raised concerns since January to the political hierarchy of early signs attesting to Hamas’ preparation for a conflict with Israel .
The internal security officials said the reports continued to pile up and that in April the Shin Bet chief, Yoram Cohen, presented Israel’s political leadership a warning of a wide-ranging strategic terror attack Hamas was planning to execute within a few months, by running its militants through a tunnel from Gaza to Kerem Shalom.
The plan called for massive casualties and the kidnapping of soldiers. Cohen’s presentation included the belief that the singular event would immediately change the military reality on the ground.
But IDF sources claimed no warning was received from the Shin Bet of a potential conflict, not in winter or spring. Defense officials said the clash on the matter erupted between Cohen and the director of military intelligence, Aviv Kochavi, during a cabinet meeting at the end of Operation Protective Edge.
However, at the height of the summer’s fighting, a senior officer in the Gaza Division said during a conversation with journalists that at the beginning of the year there had been signs that Hamas was preparing for a “July war.”
In the weeks after the operation ended, senior officers in the military and MI objected to that statement, claiming it was false.
Part of the current clash between the IDF and the Shin Bet boils down to ego – both bodies want to claim to be the first to warn the political leadership in April of an impending conflict with Hamas – as the warning led the military to prepare for the outbreak of war.
The IDF has aggressively claimed it did not notify and was not notified of any warning of war, in the simple military definition of the term.
Yoav Zitun contributed to this report.