Netanyahu told to ‘quit now’ as ex-leaders pin blame on dysfunctional government | THE GUARDIAN

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Avi Melamed’s insights quoted in “Netanyahu told to ‘quit now’ as ex-leaders pin blame on dysfunctional government”, an article by Ruth Michaelson in Jerusalem for THE GUARDIAN.

Former military officers and politicians say prime minister bears responsibility for the failures that led to the Hamas incursion.

Former Israeli intelligence official Avi Melamed said: “It’s clear this government is dysfunctional in many aspects. This is a sentiment expressed by many Israelis who are saying clearly this government is a disaster.”

Former Israeli military, political and intelligence officials have expressed doubts over the leadership of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as debate rages inside the country about the response to the Hamas attacks on 7 October that killed 1,400 Israelis.

Former prime minister Ehud Barak described the terrorist attack as “the most severe blow Israel has suffered since its establishment to date”. “I don’t believe that the people trust Netanyahu to lead when he is under the burden of such a devastating event that just happened under his term,” he told the Observer.

A former chief of staff of the Israel Defence Forces said that Netanyahu should “resign now”, while a former intelligence official described the government as “dysfunctional”.

The interventions come amid growing concern in Israel at the government’s attempts to free some of the 200 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. Some families of those held hostage have begged the government to negotiate before invading Gaza, while others have said that only an immediate military operation to destroy Hamas’s leadership can provide a solution, even if this risks the safety of the hostages.

Barak, one of Israel’s most decorated soldiers, who participated in several hostage rescue operations, said: “The hostages are a major issue, one that has the attention of our leadership and our people, but at the same time there is a need to eliminate the military capability of Hamas and its role as the ruler of the Gaza Strip.”

He described the attack by Hamas as “a major failure. It’s the most severe blow Israel has suffered since its establishment to date … I don’t believe the people trust Netanyahu to lead when he is under the burden of such a devastating event that just happened under his term.

“It’s clear this was negligence and failure on several levels. It was a failure of our intelligence to follow the preparations that took place over the past year, perhaps longer,” he said. “It’s not easy to decide on the spot what really happened but, for sure, the public lost its trust, both in the army and in the political leadership.”

Netanyahu, who has held office for a total of more than 16 years, had already drawn widespread criticism from much of the Israeli public, former military leadership and other former officials about his efforts to overhaul the Israeli judiciary before the devastating attack on 7 October. The Israeli PM also remains embroiled in a corruption trial on an array of charges including fraud, breaching public trust and accepting bribes, all of which he denies.

Cabinet ministers including the controversial far-right finance minister Bezalel Smotrich, defence chiefs including the Israeli military chief of staff Herzi Halevi, and Ronen Bar, who heads Israel’s domestic intelligence agency, the Shin Bet, have all apologised for the failure of the Israeli government to protect its citizens after the attack. A recent poll found that 80% of Israelis want Netanyahu to take responsibility for the failures that allowed Hamas’s incursion. In a separate poll earlier this month, 56% said Netanyahu should resign after the war ends.

Lt Gen Dan Halutz, a former chief of staff of the IDF and commander of the Israeli air force, as well as an outspoken member of the movement that opposed Netanyahu’s judicial reforms, said the Israeli premier was unlikely to issue a public apology.

“Our chief of staff, the head of the intelligence, the heads of the military establishment already said it: they are taking full responsibility for what happened. I believe all of them see their mission right now as being to win, and then go home,” he said.

“I expect the same from our prime minister, but he is dealing with small politics. A minute after the events started in Gaza, he started to think about his future instead of thinking about the people.”

The hostage crisis, Halutz said, “can influence the timetable of any activity. On a personal level I’d say if it’s possible to solve it quickly, I’d prefer to solve the issue of the hostages first and then continue with a military campaign … the families of the hostages expect [Netanyahu] to complete the mission and bring them back … anyone in Israel who might be in control understands that the hostages are our first priority.”

While protesters who gathered outside the Israeli military headquarters in Tel Aviv expressed concern that Netanyahu was unfit to lead Israel in this moment of crisis, Halutz said he continued to trust military leaders directing Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip. Israeli bombardments of the territory have killed more then 4,385 people and injured an estimated 13,000 over the past two weeks, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

“From my point of view, [Netanyahu] should resign now, as we speak. There are better people to handle it,” he said.

“He thinks that he’s above God, he thinks he’s the saviour of Israel and unfortunately we failed to explain that it’s the other way around, that he is the destroyer of Israel and his personal issues are leading him and not the country to benefit,” he said.

“There are different opinions, but I believe that I represent at least half the population with what I am saying.”

Former Israeli intelligence official Avi Melamed said: “It’s clear this government is dysfunctional in many aspects. This is a sentiment expressed by many Israelis who are saying clearly this government is a disaster.”

Melamed sounded uncomfortable when discussing the government’s response to the crisis, a sentiment shared by some who say they are reluctant to politicise discussions of the hostage crisis or the state’s response to the security failures.

“I am sorry to say it, but I don’t think Netanyahu’s performance or actions are any kind of an inspiring role model,” he said. “It seems he doesn’t think he has any kind of responsibility. I really struggle to see a situation where Netanyahu can continue to lead as if nothing happened.”

Barak added: “You cannot lead Israel through such a demanding crisis, both politically and strategically, when you are responsible for the most severe kind of failure of government in the history of the country, and you cannot rebuild this trust from zero. So the country has to find a way to replace him in leading the government.”


Avi Melamed’s insights quoted in “Ex-Israeli leaders urge Netanyahu to step down”, an article by John Paul Cordina for the NEWSBOOK MALTA.

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Avi Melamed
Avi Melamedhttps://insidethemiddle-east.com
Avi Melamed is an expert on current affairs in the Arab & Muslim World and their impact on Israel & the Middle East. A former Israeli Intelligence Official & Senior Official on Arab Affairs, Fluent in Arabic, English, and Hebrew, he has held high-risk Government, Senior Advisory, Intelligence & Counter-Terrorist intelligence positions in Arab cities & communities - often in very sensitive times - on behalf of Israeli Government agencies. He is the Founder & CEO of Inside the Middle East | Intelligence Perspectives - an apolitical non-partisan curriculum using intelligence methodology to examine the Middle East. As an Author, Educator, Expert, and Strategic Intelligence Analyst, Avi provides Intelligence Analysis, Briefings, and Geopolitical Tours to diplomats, Israeli and foreign policymakers, global media outlets, and a wide variety of international businesses, organizations, and private clients on a range of Israel and Middle East Affairs.

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