Benny Gantz, the senior minister who joined Israel’s war cabinet, called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday to withdraw statements he reportedly made that linked pre-war Israeli army reservist protests to the motives of the Hamas attack.

According to the Israeli Channel 12, Netanyahu said there might be a need to verify whether months-long protests against his government, including protests by reserve soldiers who said they wouldn’t refuse to resume service, were in addition to Hamas’ motives for carrying out its attack on Israel last month, which sparked a fuse of the current war.

Gantz said that Netanyahu should withdraw his statements.

“Evading responsibility, and distributing alleged accusations in wartime constitutes a blow to the country,” Gantz wrote on X.

Netanyahu denied on Sunday that he linked the protest of army reservists to the Hamas attack on October 7, after a senior government minister criticized him for these alleged statements.

The dispute that broke out is the latest sign of tension within the Israeli war cabinet, especially between Netanyahu and his political rival, Benny Gantz, who joined the emergency government from the opposition to help manage the war.

It began when Israel’s Channel 12 and other media reported that Netanyahu said there might be a need to investigate whether months-long protests against his government, involving reservists who said they were refusing to resume service, added to Hamas’ motives for carrying out its attack on Israel last month.

Netanyahu’s office later issued a statement saying, “Contrary to what was published, the Prime Minister didn’t in any way say that it was the refusal of the reserve soldiers that prompted Hamas to attack Israel”.

Netanyahu arouses public anger by not accepting responsibility for the intelligence and operational failures related to the Hamas attack.

Although senior officials, including the commanders of the army, the internal security service (Shin Bet), and the Finance Minister, all announced that they took responsibility for the failures, Netanyahu didn’t follow suit.

A week ago, Netanyahu criticized intelligence chiefs, saying they never warned him that Hamas was planning a large-scale attack, but he later issued an apology after Gantz and other officials called on him to withdraw his statements.

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