Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg, Gil Yohanan
Yoram Cohen, head of the Shin Bet, and IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz
Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg, Gil Yohanan

IDF, Shin Bet mend ties after dispute

After three days of trading blame over war alert claims prior to Gaza op, Chief of Staff Gantz, Shin Bet chief Cohen meet, reportedly patch up differences: 'Cooperation between two sides was maintained throughout dispute'.

Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen and Chief of Staff Benny Gantz held a reconciliation meeting on Friday in which they settled the dispute that broke out between the two bodies following claims made by the Shin Bet that the IDF had disregarded their warning about Hamas intentions to launch an all-out war against Israel in July – claims that were vehemently rejected by IDF officials and the political echelon.



Security officials stressed that despite the fact that the debates between the two parties were publicly displayed, and that, according to them, were mainly related to "battles of ego", the joint cooperation between the Shin Bet and the IDF had been maintained at all times during the dispute, in all sectors of operation.


Benny Gantz with Yoram Cohen in 2013. (Photo: Amit Shabi) (Photo: Amit Shabi)
Benny Gantz with Yoram Cohen in 2013. (Photo: Amit Shabi)


A joint statement issued by the two bodies said that the Shin Bet chief and Chief of Staff had sorted out their differences in a meeting. "During the conversation, measures were agreed upon to further advance the cooperation between the two organizations on behalf of the security of the State of Israel," the statement said.


On Thursday night, after it appeared the confrontation between the IDF and Shin Bet was finally calming down, Shin Bet head Yoram Cohen launched a personal attack on Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.


"The chief of staff sent the prime minister and defense minister a strongly worded letter that made serious, baseless allegations against the organization. We reject these claims outright," he wrote in a letter to Shin Bet pensions.


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"We stand behind all the comments made by our people in the news program. They are accurate, reflecting reality and the true sequence of events. The information given in the program is reliable and backed by evidence," Cohen went on to say.


In the letter, Cohen contended that the dispute was the result of IDF conduct. "The method and messages the IDF chose to employ without hearing or viewing the program caused the harsh confrontation."


In first public comments on the issue, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that "The cooperation between (the Shin Bet and IDF) is a basic element of our national security. This cooperation led to significant results in the battlefield during Operation Protective Edge. It saved many lives. Thus I, as prime minister, am responsible that this cooperation will continue because the security of the citizens of Israel always comes before any disagreement."


In the letter sent by the IDF chief to the prime minister, obtained by Ynet, Gantz accused Shin Bet officials of breaching "every moral and ethical standard."


According to a report by Israel's Channel 2 television, Shin Bet officials claimed that they had raised concerns with the political echelons as far back as January, regarding early signs attesting to Hamas preparations for a conflict with Israel. IDF chief Benny Gantz reacted furiously to the report, writing to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the Shin Bet officials who had made the claims had "breached every moral and ethical standard."


The Shin Bet officials said their reports had continued to pile up, ignored, and that in April Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen presented Jerusalem with warnings of a wide-ranging strategic terror attack that Hamas was planning to execute within the coming few months, by sending its militants through a tunnel from Gaza to into the Israeli border community of Kerem Shalom.


The Hamas plan aimed to result in massive Israeli casualties and the kidnapping of IDF soldiers. Cohen's presentation included the Shin Bet prediction that such a singular event would immediately change the military reality on the ground.


But IDF sources claimed no warning of a potential conflict had been received from the Shin Bet, either in winter or spring of 2014. Defense officials said the clash on the matter erupted between Cohen and Military Intelligence director Aviv Kochavi during a cabinet meeting at the close of Operation Protective Edge in late August.


The Shin Bet, meanwhile, issued a statement Thursday saying: "Information passed on by the Shin Bet, beginning in January 2014, pointed to the start of Hamas preparations and training ahead of a possible conflict with Israel. It is important to note, however, that at no point did Shin Bet officials, including the interviewees in the story, say that the Shin Bet had alerted, in light of this information, to a war against Hamas in July."


פרסום ראשון: 11.14.14, 16:47
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