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Halevi tells comptroller his planned Oct. 7 probe will divert IDF’s attention from war

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi on Wednesday penned a letter to the state comptroller asking him to delay a planned investigation into the multiple failures that occurred before, during, and after the Hamas terror group’s October 7 massacre.

  • “The IDF is in the midst of an unprecedented war. The audit will divert the attention of the commanders from the fighting, will damage the operational investigation ability, and will not allow drawing necessary lessons to achieve the goals of the war,” Halevi told Matanyahu Englman in the letter.

“There is no precedent for holding such a review during the war,” he said.

  • “Accordingly, I will request that the date of the start of the audit be determined in a way that will enable the IDF to devote the proper attention and resources,” Halevi added.

In December, Englman said his office would “leave no stone unturned” in its investigation.

Englman said his office will look into all aspects of the “multi-system failures,” including examining those with “personal responsibility” for the “failures on all levels — policy, military and civilian.” The probe will make up the lion’s share of the agency’s activities over 2024, he said, indicating that it will supersede quarterly reports on other aspects of the state’s functioning.

  • Among the issues to be reviewed by the comptroller’s office are the conduct of the government’s security cabinet; the conduct of policymakers and the military on October 7 itself; intelligence preparedness before October 7; the defense posture on the Gaza border before the Hamas invasion; the preparedness of the civilian security squads in the Gaza border region before the war; the funding of Hamas; and the lack of equipment for IDF soldiers, he said.

His office will also study the government’s actions following the outbreak of war, including how civilians from the south and north were relocated; the evacuation of the injured and the collection and identification of the bodies of the victims; the rights of those harmed in the attack and their ability to access those rights; and the government’s public diplomacy activities.

On economic concerns related to the war, Englman and the State Comptroller’s Office will also examine the process of formulating the recently approved supplementary budget for war expenses, as well as the implementation of financial assistance programs for those affected by the war.

He will also review state preparedness for cyberattacks and the management of digital information used for dealing with evacuees.

Englman said the government’s functioning will be examined in the period before the October 7 atrocities committed by Hamas, on the day itself, and in the time since.

Thousands of Hamas-led terrorists burst from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel on October 7, carrying out a murderous rampage of unprecedented intensity and breadth. In the hours before the IDF could mount a response, some 1,200 people were killed and 253 people were kidnapped, many of whom remain hostage in Gaza.

In response, Israel launched a military campaign aimed at destroying Hamas and win the hostages’ freedom. Hamas and other terror groups, including those in Lebanon, have continued firing rockets at Israel, displacing some 200,000 people from their homes near the borders.

Critics have cast the government’s response to the rippling effects of the massacre as ineffective, with Israel’s robust civil society filling in the gaps, providing aid to evacuees and equipment to soldiers.

Since the outbreak of the war, the state comptroller has criticized the government on a number of occasions, though his office largely lacks power beyond making recommendations or in some cases issuing fines.

Also in December, Englman accused the government of failing to adequately deal with the numerous civilian problems that arose on the home front during the first six weeks of the ongoing war, and said in a report that the functioning of government ministries and agencies was severely deficient.

In a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in November, he blasted the government over its lack of preparedness for the outbreak of war, and for what he termed the state’s slow response to assisting the civilian populations most impacted by the conflict.

  • “There is no justification for the late awakening of the Israeli government,” he wrote at the time.

Source: TOI