It just took one tweet sent over the weekend for fissures to appear within the foundation of the Israeli political system.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, stated in a letter that he had never been informed about any warnings regarding Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7th, which was sent just after midnight on Sunday. Netanyahu, on the other hand, gave the impression that he held his army and intelligence officers responsible for the attack, which resulted in the deaths of at least 1,400 people. According to what he pointed out, before to the attack, they had determined that Hamas “was deterred and ready for a settlement.”
The statement generated a commotion in the audience. Netanyahu was criticised by prominent political figures for engaging in political manoeuvring while his country was in the midst of a difficult military battle inside Gaza. The level of criticism was such that the prime minister was forced to remove the tweet and then apologise for the words he had written in an unusually serious tone. “I was completely wrong,” he admitted.
According to experts, the event proved that there is a growing gap among the political and military establishment. This rift casts doubt on Netanyahu’s ability to lead the country through a conflict without putting his personal interests ahead of the country’s safety.
“To say that he was out of order would be the understatement of the year,” said Yossi Mekelberg, associate fellow with the Middle East and North Africa Programme at Chatham House. “To say that he was out of order would be the understatement of the year.”
According to Mekelberg, “This is an extremely challenging military campaign, so you want a responsible prime minister. There is not a single person [in the government] that trusts Netanyahu – that is the main issue for this cabinet.”
Soon after the 7th of October, Netanyahu convened an emergency war cabinet by expanding the Israeli ruling coalition to include a number of former top military officers plucked from the ranks of the opposition. This was done in order to create the cabinet in a hurry.
Benny Gantz, who had previously served as Israel’s Minister of Defence, was one of those individuals. He was quick to urge that Prime Minister Netanyahu remove his contentious statement while simultaneously expressing his full support for Israel’s army and the Shin Bet, the country’s internal espionage agency.
Netanyahu is the only member of the country’s security apparatus who has not admitted to failings, although many others have. Before the tumultuous post, the Israeli leader had a news briefing on Saturday, during which he sidestepped the topic of whether or not he was responsible by stating that once the conflict is done, everybody will have to “give answers to hard questions, including me.” The angry tweet came after the news session.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg of what is going to be the Israeli establishment once the conflict is over,” said Alon Lien, who had previously served as the head of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “He is setting the stage for his argument,” Lien added. “He is preparing the ground for his argument.”
The bonds that bind Israel’s Prime Minister to a significant portion of the country’s populace have already been put to the test. The battle followed closely on the heels of a political crisis that occurred as a result of an ultra-nationalist far-right government led by Netanyahu that pushed for controversial reforms that limited the authority of the court. These policies have been condemned by opponents as being detrimental to democracy. During the course of several months, tens of thousands of people have come to the streets in order to voice their opposition to the judicial reform.
Reservists in the military who were opposed to the change voiced their opposition by stating that they would not report for their mandatory volunteer service. Some detractors are of the opinion that the scale of the demonstrations was significant enough to have an effect on the preparedness and capability of the military.
Since the 7th of October, hundreds of reservists have taken up arms in order to join the struggle against Hamas. This is the most significant military threat the country has faced since the war against Egypt and Syria in October 1973.
As part of what the Israeli army referred to as the “second phase of the war” on Monday, they announced that troops and armored vehicles were advancing deeper inside Gaza. This comes after more than three weeks of nonstop bombings of the besieged area, which have resulted in the deaths of over 8,000 Palestinians and caused a humanitarian crisis.