Crisis of trust between Netanyahu and his defense chiefs

More than two weeks have passed since the barbaric Hamas invasion and Israel appears to be trapped.

By Aviel Schneider | | Topics: Hamas, Benjamin Netanyahu, Gaza
Netanyahu visits the IDF's Northern Command Brigade. Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO
Netanyahu visits the IDF's Northern Command Brigade. Photo: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is angry with the General Staff and is having difficulty deciding on the next step, the announced ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. There is also the dilemma of the Israeli hostages in Gaza. The Israeli leadership urgently needs to wake up and serve the people first and not themselves.

“Netanyahu, political and military sources say, blames the general staff and defense establishment for all the failures in the south,” Drs. Ronen Bergmann and Nahum Barnea stated this morning. Both are leading commentators with close ties to both the government and the Israeli security apparatus.

The relationship between Netanyahu and his defense minister is also strained. The Israeli leader has lost confidence in his military staff and only partially believes in the proposed plans.

The remarks by Bergmann and Barnea made even bigger headlines in the Arab media. A crisis of trust between political and military leadership is always a good sign for our enemies. And this is how it is marketed in the Arab media.

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Yedioth Ahronoth: Disagreements between Netanyahu and senior army officials over assessments, plans and decisions

Bergmann and Barnea report that during nightly security meetings, Netanyahu often has no patience for senior officers’ suggestions and is unable to make a decision. Discussions in the war cabinet with the generals are not the topic; everyone seems to have a certain fear of the day of reckoning that’s coming after the war. So far, three heads of the Israeli security apparatus have publicly acknowledged their responsibility. These include the head of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), Ronen Bar, IDF Chief of General Staff Herzi Halevi and the head of the military intelligence service Aman, Aharon Haliva. Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant have not yet taken responsibility.

Also this week, several ministers said that it’s Netanyahu who keeps postponing the ground invasion. A minister who wished to remain anonymous called Netanyahu a coward. Once the ground invasion was postponed because of rain, another time because of foreign leaders in the country, then because of a phone call from Shas leader Arieh Deri expressing concerns about a ground war in Gaza. Last week we reported that Netanyahu had canceled an attack plan by his general staff against Hezbollah in Lebanon. This and much more explains the mood in the army. I have spoken to many officers in the south and also in the north in the last few days and they have all told me the same thing: hesitation is not healthy and can become a trap for Israel. In the meantime, training continues, but the uncertainty is not good for the soldiers, who are all waiting for the order.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a meeting with members of the War Cabinet and senior representatives of the security apparatus in the Kirya in Tel Aviv. Video: Roy Avraham/GPO

Israeli society is fully in favor of war, but Israel’s leadership and military are less so. Netanyahu finds himself in a situation where he is unsure whether the current war and defense plans are correct and will lead to victory after the entire security apparatus failed on October 7, Black Shabbat. Everything in the country is paralyzed. Everything is being questioned and that is not good for the morale of the people. “Government ministers are still in shock and have not yet woken up,” one minister is quoted as saying. Somehow everyone in the government understands that they have lost the trust of the people. According to a survey by the newspaper Maariv, 80 percent of Israelis believe that Netanyahu should take responsibility for the failure in the south. Among his right-wing Likud voters, 70 percent are of this opinion. Israeli government ministers and security chiefs and senior generals all fear the storm after the war. Therefore, they seem to be unable to concentrate enough on the real issue at hand, which is protecting the people and winning the war.

I’m sure many of you have read the classic Catch-22, which describes a dead end from which an individual cannot escape due to conflicting rules. In our case it is the government of Israel. For this reason, all of us in the country have understood that mutual accusations must be put aside in this time of need, otherwise we are really playing into the hands of our enemies. Israel has a war to win, and if our ministers and generals don’t understand that, then we can pack our bags. Of course, this is not my personal opinion, but it is the opinion of the people, and what Bergmann and Barnea published this morning confirms our feelings, our instincts and what we hear from the people.