Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing growing condemnation for the security lapses preceding the brutal Hamas attack in southern Israel, with the family member of one casualty telling a TV broadcast “we will never forgive you.”
Israeli troops are massing at the border of Gaza four days after Hamas militants stormed southern Israel, killing hundreds of civilians and seizing hostages in an attack that took the country by surprise.
During an emotional interview on Israel’s Channel 14 on Tuesday, Shirel Hogeg weighed in with his view of Netanyahu from a medical center where his family members were being treated for burns after their house was set on fire. They were among the casualties in Kfar Aza, a kibbutz where horrific reports have emerged of victims being massacred.
“Mr. Prime Minister, step outside, face the media, and apologize,” Hogeg said. “A thousand people were murdered on your watch, sir!”
“And where are you Ben-Gvir?!” he said, referring to the right-wing national security minister. “You’re the world champion of bulls*******. Where are you?! Mr. Handgun on Twitter!…We will never forgive you. Never.”
“There are heroes here, the only heroes,” Hogeg said. “But personally, I promise, I will deal with all of you one by one—the 120 Knesset members, the government, Benjamin Netanyahu, all of you.”
As the TV anchor, Amir Ivgi tried to calm his guest down, saying that he wanted to “conduct this discussion in a respectful manner,” an undeterred Hogeg continued with his invective.
Questions remain over how the combined efforts of Israel’s internal security service Shin Bet, its external spy agency, Mossad, and all the assets of the Israel Defense Forces, did not see the attack coming. An Egyptian intelligence official said that Israel had ignored repeated warnings from Cairo, although this has been denied by Netanyahu.
Hogeg said that along with other residents in southern Israel, he had fought for his country and that the current crisis was not matter of political persuasion.
“If one of you dares to call someone from the right or left side, a traitor, there will be tit for tat, we will not forgive you. We will not forgive you because look at what’s happening now.” Hogeg said.
He called for Netanyahu and Ben-Gvir to be held accountable because they “caused my sister to burn in her house.”
Israeli newspapers and social media users have blamed the intelligence shortcomings on the prime minister, which led to the biggest attack on Israel since the 1973 Yom Kippur War, and have called for his resignation. The left-leaning newspaper Haaretz, which has been critical of Netanyahu’s premiership, has run pieces holding Netanyahu directly responsible.
“I feel and I hear the anger of people, even from the people who voted for him,” Emmanuel Navon, CEO of the NGO ELNET-Israel, told Newsweek.
“At the end of the day, he is the elected prime minister and he was elected not too long ago,” he said. “On the one hand, I think he should be leading the war Cabinet, but he should also pay the political price for the disaster the moment the war is over.”
“I do not share the opinion…that he should resign now—I think this would send a terrible message to our enemy,” Navon said. “My preference of course would be for a national unity government with the security Cabinet with the same people who are there in the current government.”
“But he should definitely pay the full price for the failure.” Navon said. “The failure is his and the responsibility for this catastrophe is his.”
Newsweek has contacted Benjamin Netanyahu’s office for comment.