“I was wrong. Things I said following the press conference should not have been said and I apologize for that.I give full backing to all the heads of the security arms. I am strengthening the Chief of Staff and the commanders and soldiers of the IDF who are at the front and fighting for the house. together we will win,” he tweeted.
No warning given: Netanyahu on Hamas attack
Israel was blindsided by a well-coordinated multi-pronged attack from Hamas on October 7 that killed at least 1,400 Israelis. Since then, Israel has been bombarding the Gaza Strip, resulting in the deaths of over 7,000 Palestinians. Israel has also vowed to send in troops into Gaza to permanently “eradicate” Hamas.
Shortly after the October 7 attack, top officials from the heads of the Israeli military and domestic spy service the Shin Bet, all acknowledged their failures in predicting or spotting the threat. Even the country’s finance and education ministers accepted responsibility.
Netanyahu, however, has yet to do so. He has only said there would be time to ask tough questions, including of himself, after the war.
Netanyahu’s post, which has since been deleted, had said: “At no time and no stage was a warning given to Prime Minister Netanyahu regarding war intentions of Hamas. On the contrary, all security officials, including the head of army intelligence and the head of the Shin Bet, estimated that Hamas was deterred and interested in an arrangement.”
The remarks caused a political uproar from the opposition as well as Netanyahu’s own ministers.
Tide turning against Netanyahu?
Benny Gantz, a former defence minister who is now in Netanyahu’s war cabinet, said on X that Netanyahu should retract what he said and let the matter go.
“When we are at war, leadership must show responsibility, decide to do the right things and bolster the forces in a way that they can carry out what we demand of them,” Gantz said, adding: “Any other action or statement – harms the people’s ability to stand and their strength.”
“The PM must retract his statement and stop dealing with the issue,” he added.
“At midnight, when our soldiers are in Gaza or in the area, it’s best to pray for them and support them,” said National Unity minister Chili Tropper. “We definitely shouldn’t be settling scores with them.”
Israel’s military spokesperson declined to respond to the row, simply stating: “We are now at war, focused on the war.”
Opposition lawmaker Avigdor Lieberman, once Netanyahu’s defence minister, said the PM’s remarks show that “he (Netanyahu) is not interested in security, he is not interested in hostages, only politics”.
Yossi Cohen, who headed the Mossad spy agency under previous Netanyahu governments, said: “You take responsibility from the beginning of your job, not from the middle.”
Netanyahu’s finance minister Bezalel Smotrich also spoke out against the PM’s statement, saying that weakening the IDF’s commanders was wrong. He added that now was the time to be responsible and to support and strengthen one another even when they are wrong.
‘Netanyahu has crossed a red line’
Opposition leader Yair Lapid said Netanyahu had crossed a redline with his statement. “While the IDF is heroically fighting against Hamas and Hezbollah, he [Netanyahu]is working on attempts to put the blame on them instead of backing them up,” he said.
“The attempts to escape responsibility and put the blame on the defense system weakens the IDF while it’s fighting Israel’s enemies,” he added.
He also posted a video of a statement he made just before Yom Kippur where he said he had been warned by defense officials that Israel was about to find itself in a multi-front war.
“The intelligence materials that I was basing off of were given to Netanyahu as well,” he said. “Those who gave the intelligence were the same defense people that Netanyahu is now blaming for not warning him.”
Lapid has accused the Netanyahu government of still being in “shock” over three weeks after the Hamas attack.
“The government isn’t present for those who have been evacuated from their homes, those who were abducted by Hamas, survivors, those with family members called up as army reservists, and schoolchildren whose education schedule has been disrupted,” Lapid said.
“It’s impossible to go on this way,” he added.