Netanyahu apologizes after blaming security chiefs for failed Hamas attack | ET REALITY

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Divisions and disarray among Israel’s top leaders came to light on Sunday when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to blame the military and security establishment for the failures that led to Hamas’ surprise attack on October 7, even as the Israeli forces were expanding their ground. war in Gaza.

Netanyahu’s comments on X, formerly Twitter, sparked a furious response, even within his own war cabinet. The post was deleted and the Israeli leader apologized in a new post, saying: “I was wrong.”

Among the first to criticize Netanyahu’s comments was Benny Gantz, a centrist former defense minister and military chief who, in the interest of national unity, left the ranks of the parliamentary opposition to join Netanyahu’s emergency war cabinet in the later days. the massacre of October 7. At least 1,400 people were killed in the Hamas attacks, the deadliest day for Israel in its 75-year history, and more than 220 people were taken hostage in Gaza.

Although many senior officials, including military and security chiefs and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, have accepted some responsibility for catching Israel so off guard, Netanyahu has refused to do so. He has said several times, most recently at a news conference Saturday night, that after the war tough questions would be asked of everyone, including himself. Netanyahu has been in power for 14 of the last 16 years.

Netanyahu’s refusal to publicly accept blame has further shaken confidence in his leadership, which had fallen even before the war, in part due to his efforts to push for judicial reform that sparked huge protests across the country. Opinion polls conducted since October 7 have indicated overwhelming public confidence in the military and declining faith in government officials.

Saturday’s press conference was an attempt by the government to show unity: Netanyahu, Gallant and Gantz appeared side by side, and the prime minister took questions from journalists for the first time since October 7.

Many of the questions focused on responsibility for the Hamas attack. Hours later, Netanyahu tried to deflect blame away from himself and instead directed it at the security establishment, and specifically at the heads of military intelligence and the Shin Bet internal security agency.

“Under no circumstances and at no time was Prime Minister Netanyahu warned about war intentions on the part of Hamas,” his post said. “On the contrary, the assessment of the entire security echelon, including the head of military intelligence and the head of the Shin Bet, was that Hamas was deterred and was seeking an agreement.”

“This was the assessment presented again and again to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet by the entire security echelon and intelligence community, even up to the outbreak of war,” he added.

Mr. Gantz responded with a sharp pole expressing full support for the military and the Shin Bet, which is playing a key role in the war, and urging Mr. Netanyahu to retract his statement.

“When we are at war, leadership means showing responsibility, deciding to do the right thing, and strengthening forces so they can carry out what we demand of them,” Gantz wrote.

Centrist opposition leader Yair Lapid said Netanyahu had “crossed a red line.” Another former military chief, Gabi Ashkenazi, said Netanyahu dismissed his position and added: “We are at war.”

Following the backlash, Netanyahu’s position was eliminated. In a new post on Sunday morning, showing an unusual level of contrition, wrote: “I was wrong. The things I said after the press conference should not have been said and I apologize for that.”

Expressing his support for the heads of the security branches, the chief of the military staff and the commanders and soldiers in the field, he added: “Together we will win.”

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