His comments came a day before the second annual memorial ceremony honoring the fallen soldiers and civilians killed during Operation Protective Edge which will take place at 5:00pm at Mount Herzl in Jerusalem and will be attended by the prime minister, President Reuven Rivlin, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot.
The ceremony, is scheduled to take place on Tuesday afternoon against a background of demands from bereaved families for an independent committee be formed to investigate the handling of the operation.
During a meeting which took place with military journalists Netanyahu claimed that during the year and a half preceding the operation he convened eight security meetings, also with the cabinet, in which the threat of the Hamas attack tunnels was addressed and instructions issued for their location and destruction.
In an unusual move, Netanyahu turned to the military journalists in light of the pressure being exerted by the families to create an independent inquiry. He highlighted each meeting with the cabinet prior to the operation along with discussions, including those in the field, in which he personally participated and directed the IDF to deal with the tunnels. He further emphasized that he had requested the implementation of technological solutions for locating the tunnels.
“Protective Edge is not the Second Lebanon War. The accusation that we didn’t prepare and didn’t know about the tunnels is not true,” he told the journalists.
Despite Netanyahu's defiant posture, some senior ministers have also cast doubt on how things were handled. Bayit Yehudi Chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett addressed the issue on Tuesday without specifically mentioning Netanyahu’s name, warning, “whoever does not learn from mistakes is destined to repeat them.”
“Every commander in the IDF draws on the lessons at the end of operations in order to avoid future mistakes and to improve. What is correct for the infantry wings is also correct for the security and state leadership of Israel," Bennett continued. "We have to learn from past mistakes ahead of the next campaign and not deny them. Learning from real lessons is a sign of strength and self-confidence.”
The main motive behind the prime minister’s move is his desire to prevent the proposed investigative inquiry into the the entire military operation which he contends will hinder the IDF’s functioning capabilities. Moreover, Netanyahu has his own political considerations based on preventing his critics in the coalition to find another reason to censure him.
At the beginning of the week, dozens of bereaved parents, many of whom lost their children during Operation Protective Edge, demanded that an independent committee be formed to investigate the 50-day operation. The orchestrators of the initiative, parents of fallen soldiers, also implored other parents and families of civilians who were killed in the operation to join them.
When the conflict ended, a request was filed to launch an inquiry that would look into events prior to the operation, including the preparedness of the home front, military assessments, incidents during the operation itself and the decision made by the top echelons of the IDF.
However, the request was rejected and the relevant political bodies instructed the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee (FASC) to compile a report on the operation instead, which has yet to be published.