Netanyahu clarifies reservist protest remarks after Gantz’s retraction demand

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday denied drawing a link between a protest among army reservists and Hamas’ decision to carry out its Oct. 7 attack, after a senior cabinet minister lashed out at him for the reported remarks.

Sunday’s sparring was the latest sign of tension in Israel’s war cabinet, particularly between Netanyahu and political rival Benny Gantz, who joined an emergency government from the opposition to help manage the war.

It began when Israel’s Channel 12 and other news outlets reported that Netanyahu said there may be a need to examine whether months of protests against his government, including by reservists who said they would no longer report for regular duty, added to Hamas’ motivation to carry out the rampage through southern Israel that triggered the current war.

Gantz, in a post on social media platform X, called on Netanyahu to retract the reported comment.

“Avoiding responsibility and slinging mud at the time of war is a blow to the country,” Gantz wrote, citing that all reservists showed up to serve.

Netanyahu’s office then issued a statement saying: “Contrary to what was published, the prime minister did not in any way say that the (reservists’) refusal was what led Hamas to attack Israel.”

Netanyahu has drawn public ire for not taking responsibility over intelligence and operational failures relating to Hamas’ attack. While top officials – from the heads of the military and the Shin Bet domestic spy service to his finance minister – have all acknowledged their failures, Netanyahu has not.

A week ago, Netanyahu took a jab at his intelligence chiefs, saying they never warned him Hamas was planning its wide-scale attack, but later issued an apology after Gantz and other officials demanded a retraction.

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