Netanyahu tries to save face after failed Khan Younis operation

PNN/ Tel Aviv/

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has defended the work of the Israeli army unit that carried out a failed secret security operation in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, November 2018. The operation killed seven Palestinian citizens, including Hamas commander Nour Baraka, and led to the death of a senior Israeli officer.

Netanyahu claimed that his units worked professionally, praising the so-called bravery of Israeli soldiers and pilots. His statement follows the release of a report by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) after an investigation into the raid. The report concludes that the Israeli officer, Lieutenant Colonel (M), was in fact killed accidentally by his own unit and not Hamas.

Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper stated that “the investigation pointed to the shortcomings that led to the detection of the Special Forces”, but praised the role of the Israeli Air Force helicopter pilots and medics who were called in to extract the soldiers after their discovery by Hamas.

The newspaper added that the commander of the unit, Sayeret Matkal, nicknamed “H”, decided to end his military service after the failed operation. He was the first commander not to complete his leadership term in the unit for 23 years.

The investigation found that the senior officer was killed by a “bullet fired by his friend, the commander, from his pistol equipped with a silencer”, and noted that “another officer was wounded moderately.”

The investigation revealed that there were “many tactical errors in the discussion between the Force and the armed Hamas activists who questioned [them]… the Lieutenant Colonel was shot at close range in the battle that followed. ”

“The Lieutenant and another fighter were able to withstand questioning by Hamas activists for more than 30 minutes”, the investigation said. “The killing of the officer is the most tragic mistake, but not the only mistake.”

The investigation confirmed the operation’s failure, stating that “the training of the Special Force… lasted for several months, but there were gaps and accidents.”

Members of the al-Qassam Brigade (Hamas’ military wing) and their leader Nour Baraka discovered the Israeli Special Forces after they entered Khan Yunis on the evening of 11 November 2018, 40 minutes before they opened fire and Baraka was killed. The military operation lasted 48 hours in total.