More recordings of former Defense Minister Ehud Barak, which were recorded as part of Barak's biography The War of My Life by Dani Dor and Ilan Kfir, were revealed Monday night on Channel 2 – and are sure to raise yet another political storm.
The new set of recordings reveal Barak's perspective on the performance of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during the Gilad Shalit affair – the abduction in 2006, the release in 2011, and the aftermath of both.
Barak claims he had to "sit on" Netanyahu for "months" to get Shalit back and to kick the government, the Knesset, and the Shamgar Committee into high gear over the issue, although he admits Netanyahu also wanted Shalit released.
In the end, Barak claims, Netanyahu's reluctance to take definitive action led to the kidnapping of teenagers Naftali Frankel, Eyal Yifrah, and Gilad Sha'er in 2014, as he had failed to do "the necessary follow-up."
Barak also heavily criticized how Netanyahu handled Shalit's release and return to Israel.
The official welcoming ceremony held was "pretty petty," Barack claimed, and said that bureaucratic issues mangled the handling of the event. Barak ultimately was responsible for securing the Israeli Air Force (IAF) base where the ceremony took place, even though those functions are normally handled by the IDF Chief of General Staff.
Barak further accused Netanyahu of wanting to take all the credit and the attention for Shalit's return during the ceremony, and that the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) insisted on specific shots for the event – including that when Shalit first landed, only Netanyahu himself would additionally be in the frame.
He concluded by stating that, in his opinion, Netanyahu's words and self-image are more important to the Prime Minister than actual actions.
Series of leaks
This is the second set of explosive recordings leaked from Barak's biography, the first set of which raised ire and media mayhem on Friday after the former Defense Minister was heard claiming that Israel declined to carry out a strike on Iran's nuclear facilities in 2010 and 2011.
Just before the second set aired on Monday, top defense officials expressed their own disapproval of the leaks to Walla! News - and stated that not only did Barak reveal sensitive security issues, but also portrayed the Israeli defense system as weak.
In these recordings, Barak is heard saying that he and Netanyahu had first planned an attack on Iran in 2010, but the attack was postponed when then-IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said that the military was not prepared for such an operation.
The plan then came up again a year later, in 2011, according to Barak, after Ashkenazi had been replaced as Chief of Staff by Benny Gantz. At that time, he said, Gantz indicated that the military was indeed prepared for such an attack, and Barak and Netanyahu – who were backed by then-Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman – brought the plan up for discussion before the “Octet”, a group of eight senior ministers who made decisions on security-related issues. According to Barak, it was during the Octet discussion that Ya’alon (then Strategic Affairs Ministers) and Steinitz (then Finance Minister) changed their minds about backing the plan, after previously expressing support for it.
But on Monday, a top defense official stated that the entire assessment of events is inherently flawed.
"Anyone who says that between 2010-2012, the IDF was at the peak of its abilities to carry out an attack on Iran, is wrong and misleading," the official stated. "Each passing year, the IDF gets better."
The official further insisted that great strides have been made in the IDF's arsenal, strategy, and professionalism over the past five years.
"You cannot compare the defenses of Israel in 2010-2012 to now, as we [now] have more Iron Dome batteries – or even [compare them to] the IDF's capabilities for next year, as the Magic Wand [a separate missile defense system – ed.] may be operational by then."