Photo: Roi Idan
IDF forces near Gaza during Operation Protective Edge
Photo: Roi Idan
Yoaz Hendel

Gaza war report must be published at once

Op-ed: The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee's summary of Operation Protective Edge cannot be postponed, even if it does affect the elections.

State Comptroller Yosef Shapira was appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu two and a half years ago. It appeared to be a calculated appointment, aimed at giving the prime minister room to breathe. Unlike the previous comptroller, Shapira was perceived as a calm person, easy to maneuver and convenient for the government.



During this long period, Shapira had time to study the State of Israel's problems, review previous reports about expenses and exceptions, rest, sleep on it, wake up, consider and decide. He has dozens of skilled workers, and nothing escapes them. When comptrollers are replaced, they stay on. When Shapira idles away, they idle away – with the same open cases and the same interrogees.


Shapira could have released reports on any issue during this period, yet two important reports are being released now of all times.


When the comptroller publishes reports on the eve of the elections, it points to a flaw. It points to a flaw in his inability to identify the problematic timing. Every decent person must ask what happened to Shapira until now.


Where was he? Pressures and fears are not a good enough explanation. The bottom line is that the comptroller suddenly woke up from his hibernation, and thus whoever argues that the timing is problematic is completely right.


The report about the housing crisis can be published after the elections. Whoever isn't feeling the pinch personally will not feel it via the media exposure. The report about the expenses of the prime minister's residence should have been published a long time ago – and fearlessly. The problematic response of the prime minister's associates would have made an impact then too, but once the comptroller failed to do that, he should have waited.


Each of these reports is very important to the Israeli public, but they cannot be disconnected from the upcoming elections. Each of these reports is significant, yet they are in bad taste.


Operation Protective Edge. Some issues are more important than a political campaign  (Photo: Reuters)
Operation Protective Edge. Some issues are more important than a political campaign


But the most problematic affair in these elections is not Shapira and his decisions, but actually the report which has not been published due to the timing: The Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee's report on Operation Protective Edge.


Two parties from the now-dissolved government have in the past week been calling openly for the report's publication. Bayit Yehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett told me in a radio interview that he is demanding the report's publication, as is former minister Yaakov Peri of Yesh Atid, who was part of the cabinet during the operation.


Unlike the reports about the housing crisis and the expenses at the prime minister's residence, the summary on Protective Edge cannot be postponed. No one knows when the next war in the south will erupt, but it is not dependent on an Israeli decision or on a shift in power. In this region, wars sometimes erupt due to bad luck - a successful abduction, a rocket that hits a kindergarten.


The report has both public and confidential sections, but without its publication it will be impossible to draw any conclusions. The IDF's biggest improvement after the Second Lebanon War was triggered by several chapters in the Winograd Report. Netanyahu was one of those who pushed, and rightfully so, for an investigation and a quick publication of the findings.


In the case of Protective Edge, the government decided that the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee would conduct the investigation. Half a year has passed and the report is not being published, citing the excuse of the timing. We have no way of knowing about the lessons learned on the tunnels or the evacuation of communities, or the Israeli strategy towards Hamas in the next war.


Would such a report affect the elections? Possibly. Bayit Yehudi's demand for its publication may indicate that they are convinced Bennett was the one who warned and pushed for the tunnels to be dealt with before they were used by Hamas. And maybe there were opposite conclusions, that the caution exercised by the prime minister and defense minister was the right way.


But it matters not. In order to improve, amend and make decisions, there is no other option but to publish the full report – the confidential part to the authorized officials, and the non-confidential parts to the public.


Several weeks ago, according to foreign reports, Israel attacked a convoy in Syria and a senior Iranian officer was killed. Some on the left accused Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon of launching an election operation. These accusations stem from a lack of understanding of how the military and intelligence system works. Likud officials argued at the time that there is no void when it comes to security issues, and that Israel must act even during an election period. I agree with every word they said.


Now, Likud MKs Zeev Elkin and Yariv Levin, who hold the Protective Edge report, should show some decency too. We must not accept a decision to avoid publishing insights into the operation that took place last summer, and will likely take place again, giving the excuse of elections. Some issues are more important than a political campaign.


פרסום ראשון: 02.24.15, 10:01
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