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Major developments in Israel, Netanyahu’s son says dad was betrayed

Jun 18, 2024

There have been extraordinary developments in Israel in the past 24 hours. The High Court has intervened to stop an investigation into the events of 7 October; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has disbanded his war cabinet; and his son has gone public saying his father was betrayed by not being alerted to a warning of the 7 October attacks, discussed by the IDF and Shin Bet on the night of October 6.

Hostilities on the Lebanese border have been heating up with reports Israel is preparing to go to war against Hezbollah. The Israeli army is implementing humanitarian ‘pauses’ to allow aid into Gaza, which the prime minister, Mr Netanyahu, has rebuked them for. Meantime funerals for 11 Israeli soldiers were held throughout Israel on Sunday, all of whom died in combat in Gaza. One of them Staff Sgt. Tzur Abraham, 22, died Sunday morning.

The events come in the shadow of a UN report late last month which disclosed that the Israeli military was involved in the 7 October attacks, and intentionally killed Israeli civilians to avoid them being taken captive by Hamas. The UN report details at a number of instances where the Hannibal Directive was adopted.

Separately, on Sunday night the Israeli cabinet decided it would impose measures against countries that have indicated they will recognise Palestinian statehood; agreed to act against the Palestinian Authority for steps it has taken with international bodies; and intensify settlement activity in the West Bank.

“The Security Cabinet discussed steps to strengthen settlement in Judea and Samaria (Israel’s name for the West Bank), including in response to the countries that unilaterally recognized a Palestinian state after October 7, as well as a series of responses against the Palestinian Authority following its actions against Israel in international bodies,” Mr Netanyahu’s office said in a statement released on Monday.

“The Defense Minister and the Attorney General requested additional time to comment on several of the proposed clauses. The prime minister instructed that all of the proposals be submitted to a vote at the next Security Cabinet meeting,” the statement said.

The events over Sunday and Monday throw further light on why it is the Israeli government and its military and security forces, while showing concern in their rhetoric, have done little to secure the release of hostages. The services have rescued four captives in 8 months of intense bombardment and ground invasions, killing around 38,000 people, most of them civilians. Three hostages were in fact shot dead by the Israeli army when they, while clearly unarmed, approached soldiers waving a white flag, with their arms in the air, and saying in Hebrew they were hostages.

Hostilities on the Israeli and Lebanese border are also intensifying, with many of the belief Israel is looking to go to war against Hezbollah. Amos Hochstein, U.S. President Joe Biden’s special adviser on the Middle East, arrived in Israel on Monday with the specific task of trying to de-escalate the tensions in the north.

On Sunday Israel’s Supreme Court, the highest court in the country ordered a halt of the investigation into the October 7 attacks.

“In view of the complex security reality, the planned scope of the investigation, which will deal, among other things, with the combat support system and core operational issue, and the preparation required to respond to the investigation at the current time, and while giving significant weight to the classified position papers of the security agencies submitted to me, I order the suspension of the investigation procedures in everything that relates to the IDF and Shin Bet,” Justice Gila Canfy-Steinitz ruled on Sunday.

State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman, right, and Ma'alot-Tarshiha Mayor Arkady Pomeranets touring a bomb shelter in the city, October 17, 2023. (Courtesy State Comptroller's Office)

State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman (pictured right) announced the investigation in December 2023. It was immediately opposed by the Israeli military, the Shin Bet, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

All three said it would distract from the war, and any investigations should be put off until the end of the war. Englman however was not deterred and commenced the investigation which he has termed an audit, however none of the services would cooperate with him and denied him access to personnel and facilities.

Englman pushed back. “As part of the dozens of audits recently launched by us on ‘Iron Swords’ issues, all relevant senior officials and government bodies are subject to audit, from the Prime Minister, through the ministerial level and the political-security cabinet, culminating in the government ministries and public entities. The audit plan includes examining the failures and underlying reasons for the depth of the debacle, the examination of which is of paramount importance. It is our moral duty to provide Israel’s citizens with answers, as they are entitled to explanations for the most serious failure in Israel’s history,” Englman said in a letter to Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi, the Chief of the General Staff of the IDF on 25 January this year.

“As I have already stated on previous occasions, the state audit has no intention of hindering the IDF in the war effort. From the first week after October 7th until now, the State Comptroller Office’s audit teams have conducted dozens of field visits and held hundreds of meetings with various parties. These tours and meetings have resulted in a detailed list of deficiencies and significant failures concerning the government’s handling of the civilian home front. The list of failures has been delivered in real-time to the prime minister for immediate remedy.”

“During this period, I have instructed all audit teams in the State Comptroller’s Office not to conduct tours of IDF bases and meetings with IDF officials, in order not to divert the IDF’s attention from the war,” the Eng;man letter said.

“After more than 100 days of combat, during which the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) went through various stages of combat, according to IDF officials, it has become clear that there were serious failures that led to the events of October 7th. It is therefore necessary to conduct a comprehensive and in-depth examination of the state audit at all levels – governmental, military, and civilian.”

The Comptroller made it clear the events of October 7 were in no way similar to events from previous military campaigns, and the failures that led to the events of that day were without precedent. “It should be made clear that the core of the criticism of the political and military echelons does not apply to the waging of ‘Operation Iron Swords’ but rather to the failings that preceded it,” he said.

While the Israeli State Comptroller was on the ground from 7 October, so too was the United Nations which through the Human Rights Commission began an Independent International Commission of Inquiry.

An advance report by that inquiry, released on the 27th of last month revealed extraordinary details of events of October 7, particularly the involvement of the Israeli military in the attacks which killed around 1,200 people of whom 809 were civilians.

“Hamas’ military wing, other Palestinian armed groups and civilians attacked distinct civilian targets in at least 24 localities, as well as public spaces and outdoor festivals. In these sites militants systematically moved from house to house setting homes on fire, shooting into private and public shelters, and removing people from hiding places, killing, injuring and abducting civilians to Gaza,” the report said. It goes on to examine in excrutiating detail the barbaric and cruel attrocities carried out by the armed groups and Gazan civilians.

However it also identifies widespread killing and destruction by Israeli security forces. “The Commission found that ISF (Israel Secrity Forces)’s response to the attack was initially significantly delayed and, in many places, totally inadequate. Small teams of ISF ground forces appeared in several locations during the morning but they were slow to arrive, insufficient in numbers and lacked coordination with a centralized command and with each other. Several ISF tanks were active that day, at border locations and in the civilian villages, including one that provided protective cover for civilians in hiding and several ISF members defending a position at the Nova festival site. In many kibbutzim, local rapid deployment security teams fought against the attackers with very little or no external reinforcement,” the report says. It then goes on to identify deliberate targeting of Israel civilians by these forces, however notably it also clarifies that some allegations it was made aware of could not be confirmed.

The findings were as follows:

  1. The Commission is aware of allegations that ISF used the “Hannibal Directive” to prevent the capture of Israeli civilians and their transfer to Gaza, even at the cost of killing them. Such allegations were made in relation to ISF actions in the Nova site, including reports of ISF attack helicopters shooting at Israeli civilian cars, resulting in the killing of Israelis. The Commission confirmed the presence of at least eight attack helicopters in various locations on 7 October, but it could not confirm that they shot at civilians or civilian cars, including in the area of the festival. The Commission documented one statement by an ISF tank crew, confirming that the crew had applied the Hannibal Directive by shooting at a vehicle which they suspected was transporting abducted ISF soldiers.
  2. The Commission also verified information indicating that, in at least two other cases, ISF had likely applied the Hannibal Directive, resulting in the killing of up to 14 Israeli civilians. One woman was killed by ISF helicopter fire while being abducted from Nir Oz to Gaza by militants. In another case the Commission found that Israeli tank fire killed some or all of the 13 civilian hostages held in a house in Be’eri.
  3. The Commission found that Israeli authorities prioritised identifying victims, notifying families and allowing for burial rather than forensic investigation, leading to evidence of crimes, especially sexual crimes, not being collected and preserved. The Commission also notes the loss of potential evidence due to inadequately trained first responders.

Adding to the developments of the past 24 hours, Yair Netanyahu, the son of the Israeli prime minister has gone public using X to air allegations that his father was betrayed, and not included in a consultation between the IDF and the Shin Bet on the night of 6 October 2024 when intelligence was discussed warning of an attack the following day. Measures were put in place to beef up security and additional soldiers that were deployed were killed. Yair Netanyahu says his father was not in the loop.

Surprisingly he was basing his remarks around the Supreme Court decisiont to halt the inquiry into the events of 7 October. “What are they trying to hide?” he asked. “If there was no betrayal, why are they so afraid that external and independent parties will investigate what happened?” he posted. “To this day, no answer has been received as to why the prime minister was not updated about the call held the night before October 7?”

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