Netanyahu (left) prevented Halevy from recording meetings related to the war on Gaza (Israel Government Press Office)

JERUSALEM – The requirement of a security guard in the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to inspect the Chief of Staff of the army, Herzi Halevi, and to ensure that he does not carry a recording device, before entering a security consultation session for the "War Cabinet", deepened the crisis of confidence between Netanyahu and the leaders of the security and military services, at a time when the ground battle is raging in the Gaza Strip.

As the extent of the intelligence failure to prevent Operation Al-Aqsa Flood was revealed, a week after the beginning of the aggression on the Gaza Strip, Netanyahu instructed his staff and those close to him to prohibit recording any deliberations and discussions related to the conduct of the war.

These measures were followed by strong criticism by the prime minister of the army and intelligence chiefs, which were frowned upon by opposition leaders, emergency government partners, and members of the War Cabinet, Defense Minister Yoav Galant, and National Camp chief Benny Gantz, who demanded that Netanyahu stop criticizing the army and use the war on the Gaza Strip for political ends.

Amid these measures and Netanyahu's approach to managing the war on Gaza, his dealings with the leaders of the military and security services, and his allocation of huge budgets to the parties participating in the coalition to prevent the disintegration of his government, voices in the "National Camp" demanded that Gantz resign from the emergency government and withdraw from the "war cabinet."

Political goals

The tension between Netanyahu and Gantz came to a head with the approval of the revised 2023 budget in the first reading, and Netanyahu and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich refused to divert government coalition funds to war needs, according to Moran Azoulay, a political analyst at the Yedioth Ahronoth website.

Azoulay pointed to the loudness of voices within Gantz's Blue and White party to withdraw from the emergency government, while partners in the National Camp, members of the New Hope party headed by Gideon Sa'ar, expressed their opposition to the move to dismantle the government during the war.

Some members of the National Camp believe that Netanyahu is using the war for political purposes to coincide with the election campaign phase, and that the camp will be damaged if it remains a partner in the emergency government coalition, while others believe that it is wrong to withdraw from the government at this critical stage of the war, Azoulay quoted them as saying.

After hearing the views of most members of the National Camp, Gantz asked to summarize the discussion, saying, "I don't act for political considerations, I do what's good for Israel, I don't get up and leave when it's not good, and anyway when you do what's right for Israel, the people support you politically."

Netanyahu prevented senior army commanders from recording meetings on the Gaza war (Israel Government Press Office)

Crisis of confidence

Investigative journalist Avi Bar-Eli explained that Netanyahu's instructions to his staff to prohibit the recording of any deliberations and sessions, whether for the government, ministries and the "war cabinet" in particular, are aimed at ensuring an infrastructure for political maneuvering for Netanyahu and his followers in managing the war on Gaza, and documenting the progress of the war from his own point of view.

He pointed out that the interception and inspection of the security guard in the Prime Minister's Office to the Chief of Staff before entering the "War Cabinet" session reflects the crisis of confidence between the army commanders and Netanyahu, who refused to take personal responsibility for the failure to prevent the surprise attack, and placed the responsibility on the commanders of the army and the security and intelligence services.

Eli, who is in charge of investigative reporting at the newspaper Die Marker, reported that Netanyahu's office prevented IDF officers from recording cabinet and cabinet discussions on the progress and development of the war on Gaza, and ordered them to leave the recording equipment abroad, even though the recordings are required for operational needs and have been in place for years.

With these measures, Netanyahu's office is tightening not only on the conduct of the war, but also in defining and formulating the narrative of responsibility for the failure to prevent Black Saturday as well, and the positive and negative developments of the war.

Netanyahu accused of using the war on Gaza for personal political goals (Israeli Government Press Office)

Monopoly of documents

The same argument was espoused by Israeli Channel 13 political affairs correspondent Sevi Ovadia, who estimated that the Prime Minister's Office's measures to prevent the entry of recording devices into consultations and sessions related to the conduct of the war on Gaza are ultimately aimed at monopolizing materials, documents and documents related to the war on Gaza and failing to prevent a sudden attack, until after the end of the war, when an official commission of inquiry will be convened.

The political affairs correspondent explained that what appears to be a conflict and disagreement between Netanyahu's office and the chief of staff over the recording and documentation of the consultations, reflects the depth of the crisis between Netanyahu and the army, which is an attempt to prevent the army from having any documentation of its own related to discussing the war on Gaza.

Ovadia pointed out that the recording of cabinet and cabinet meetings from the Israeli army is acceptable and common for many years with the agreement of all parties and the government secretariat, and in general the army uses the recordings to "quickly retrieve" the discussion protocol related to guidelines, and to explain security points and issues.

Hidden conflict

In the same context, journalist Gadi Weitz revealed that Netanyahu's office requested secret documents from the period of previous governments, as they were transferred to Netanyahu's office, while the attorney general of the Israeli government, Ghali Bharav Miara, prevented the transfer of the minutes of the full meetings, because their transfer and delivery is contrary to government regulations.

Weitz, who serves as head of the investigative department of Haaretz, explained that since the seventh of last October, Netanyahu has refused to take responsibility for the surprise attack on Israel, as he seeks to blame the supreme security establishment and his opponents in the previous government.

He pointed out that Netanyahu entrusted a senior Likud party member with the task of collecting documents and documents, which would give a negative impression and distort the image of officials in the security and military institutions, and hold them fully responsible for intelligence failures and prevent a surprise attack.

Narrative formulation

Regarding these practices and approaches to Netanyahu, his staff and those close to Likud and the right-wing camp, the government's legal adviser sent a letter to Israel's National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and a copy to Shin Bet security chief Ronen Bar, requesting the collection of classified materials obtained by Netanyahu.

According to Tova Tsimuki, legal affairs correspondent for Yedioth Ahronoth, these instructions are aimed at preventing Netanyahu from monopolizing any documents related to the conduct of the war on Gaza and obtaining protocols for the previous government's sessions.

Preventing Netanyahu from possessing secret protocols and materials from the War Cabinet sessions will make it difficult for Netanyahu and his men to collect material and formulate a narrative to help him evade responsibility for failing to prevent a Hamas attack, or diverging positions and failing to achieve declared war goals.

Source : Al Jazeera