After the Gaza war, the blame game will begin in earnest. But no one is blameless, because there are those who warned for many years that Hamas was planning to invade, and successive governments, both left and right-wing, failed to take them seriously.
In 2016, then-Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman told the Cabinet that Hamas would one day soon enter southern Israel in great numbers, overrun Israeli towns, and kill and kidnap a large number of civilians.
His assessment was classified until now. But parts were published on Monday by Israel’s top-selling newspaper Yediot Ahronot. And Liberman’s foreknowledge now comes across as uncanny amidst the insistence of many other politicians who insist they had no idea this was coming.
A large-scale Hamas invasion using combined forces, the occupation of Israeli towns and the abduction of an unprecedented number of civilians. It’s all there in the 11-page assessment written seven years ago.
Liberman at the time recommended a surprise preemptive strike against Hamas to destroy its ability to do great harm to the State of Israel and her citizens. But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, then-IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot (now a senior member of the National Camp faction) and other top security chiefs insisted that Hamas had been sufficiently deterred.
They didn’t believe Liberman knew what he was talking about.
“On December 21, 2016, as Minister of Defense, I sent a letter warning of a Hamas invasion. We barely discussed it in the cabinet. Both Eisenkot and Netanyahu were disrespectful” in regards to the assessment, Liberman told Channel 12 at the weekend.
Liberman resigned in 2018 in protest over Netanyahu agreeing to a ceasefire with Hamas following an intense two-day Gaza flare-up late that year. His departure resulted in early elections in April 2019.
At the time, he called the ceasefire, which included approval for Qatar to transfer $15 million to Hamas, a “capitulation to terror.”
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