For Israel’s Netanyahu, War in Gaza and at Home

The social media submit went up on-line at 1:10 a.m. Sunday, whereas most Israelis had been sleeping.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had a message: His navy and safety chiefs, he mentioned, had failed to supply him with any warning of the shock Hamas assault on Oct. 7. He seemed to be putting all of the blame on them for the colossal lapses — at the same time as Israeli forces had been broadening a dangerous floor struggle in Gaza.

The nation awoke to a livid response, together with from inside Mr. Netanyahu’s personal struggle cupboard. The submit on X, previously Twitter, was deleted, and the Israeli chief apologized in a brand new one. “I was wrong,” he mentioned.

But the injury was performed.

For many Israelis, the episode confirmed suspicions of rifts and disarray at the highest throughout one of many worst crises in the nation’s 75-year historical past and strengthened qualms about Mr. Netanyahu’s management.

“He’s in survival mode,” mentioned Gadi Wolfsfeld, an professional in political communications at Reichman University in Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv.

“He’s been in difficult circumstances before, and he still believes he can come out of this and continue to be prime minister when this is all done,” Professor Wolfsfeld mentioned, including, “The only thing driving him is staying in power.”

Among the primary to name out Mr. Netanyahu’s middle-of-the evening feedback was Benny Gantz, the centrist former protection minister and navy chief who, for the sake of nationwide unity, left the ranks of the parliamentary opposition to affix Mr. Netanyahu’s emergency struggle cupboard in the times after the bloodbath by Hamas. At least 1,400 folks had been killed in these assaults — it was the deadliest day for the Jewish folks because the Holocaust — and at least 239 had been taken as hostages to Gaza.

In a sharp post of his personal, Mr. Gantz expressed his full assist for the navy and Israel’s inner safety company, the Shin Bet, which is enjoying a key position in the struggle, and urged Mr. Netanyahu to retract his assertion.

“When we are at war,” he wrote, “leadership means displaying responsibility, deciding to do the right things and strengthening the forces so that they will be able to carry out what we are demanding of them.”

Although many senior officers — together with navy and safety chiefs and the protection minister, Yoav Gallant — have already accepted some duty for Israel’s having been caught off-guard, Mr. Netanyahu has declined to comply with go well with. He has as a substitute mentioned a number of instances, most not too long ago at a information convention on Saturday night, that robust questions will likely be asked of everyone, together with himself, after the struggle.

Mr. Netanyahu, who has been in energy for 14 of the previous 16 years, got here into this struggle at a low level in his political profession, battling corruption costs in court docket at the same time as he and his ultranationalist and religiously conservative authorities tried to curb the powers of the judiciary, setting off large protests and months of nationwide civil unrest.

Though 1000’s of volunteers who make up the navy’s reserves had threatened to stop in response to the transfer towards the judges, because the Hamas atrocities, the military says it has had greater than a strong response to its mass call-up.

Mr. Netanyahu mentioned Saturday that his judicial overhaul plan was now not on the agenda. But his refusal to just accept any blame publicly for the Hamas debacle has additional shaken confidence in his management. Opinion surveys since Oct. 7 have indicated overwhelming public belief in the navy and plummeting religion in authorities officers.

Many Israelis have an intimate reference to the navy, a so-called folks’s military made up of conscripts and reservists, a lot of whom volunteer into center age. It has an ethos of commanders’ going first into battle, taking up all of the burdens and dangers of management.

Major wars and safety failures have introduced down Israeli prime ministers in the previous, amongst them Golda Meir, who resigned months after the 1973 struggle, and Ehud Olmert, whose destiny was sealed by a devastating monthlong 2006 battle with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

And Mr. Netanyahu was in hassle even earlier than Hamas crossed the border. Israeli society was in upheaval — and he was at its middle.

“He started out in overdraft, with no credit to spare,” mentioned Mazal Mualem, an Israeli political commentator for Al-Monitor, a Middle East information web site, and the writer of a latest biography of the Israeli chief, “Cracking the Netanyahu Code.”

Ms. Mualem mentioned that she had little question that Mr. Netanyahu was match to run the struggle however that in the tip, “the rage will turn toward him, however much he says, ‘They didn’t tell me’ and so on.”

That could also be why he rushed to repair his social media misstep, she mentioned.

In the new post late Sunday morning, exhibiting an uncommon stage of contrition, Mr. Netanyahu emphasised his assist for the heads of the safety branches, the navy chief of employees and the commanders and troopers at the entrance. “Things I said following the news conference should not have been said, and I apologize for that,” he wrote.

The barb and the apology that adopted got here hours after Mr. Netanyahu tried to handle mounting public criticism of his seeming lack of empathy, and inaccessibility, by inviting hostages’ relations who had been holding a vigil exterior his Tel Aviv workplace in for a gathering. He then held the televised information convention at which he answered questions from reporters for the primary time since Oct. 7.

In an try by the federal government to indicate unity at a time of nationwide trauma and jeopardy, Mr. Netanyahu appeared alongside his protection minister, Mr. Gallant, and Mr. Gantz.

The unhealthy blood amongst them isn’t any secret.

In March, Mr. Netanyahu briefly fired Mr. Gallant after he brazenly warned of the hazard to nationwide safety posed by the transfer to weaken the judiciary and the uproar it was inflicting. Mr. Gallant was reinstated weeks later below intense public pressure. Mr. Gantz was till not too long ago a bitter political rival of Mr. Netanyahu, who reneged on a power-sharing settlement with him in 2020.

Many of the questions at the information convention targeted on duty for the failure to foresee the Hamas assault. Hours afterward, Mr. Netanyahu took to social media to attempt to deflect blame.

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

“This was the assessment presented time and again to the prime minister and the cabinet by all the security echelon and the intelligence community, including right up until the outbreak of the war,” the submit learn.

Though deleted, the submit is unlikely to be forgotten, and some analysts see that as factor.

“I think it clarifies very well what Netanyahu is concerned about these days,” mentioned Gayil Talshir, a political scientist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. “He wants to distance himself from the Oct. 7 massacre.”

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