Israeli High Court suspends state comptroller’s probe into Oct. 7 failures

The probe was also opposed by Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi and the State Attorney’s office.

By Pesach Benson, TPS

Israel’s High Court of Justice on Sunday ordered State Comptroller Matanyahu Englman to suspend his investigation into the failures the security services of October 7 pending a hearing on the matter in July.

The comptroller, also known as the state ombudsman, periodically releases reports auditing Israeli preparedness and the effectiveness of government policies.

Government watchdog groups petitioned the court against Englman’s investigation, arguing that the security issues were beyond the comptroller’s mandate, the probe would damage the army operationally, and that the probe would not address political responsibility for decisions made in during the time leading up to Hamas’s attacks on communities near the Gaza border.

In May, High Court Justice Gila Canfy-Steinitz ruled against stopping the State Comptroller’s probe. But she said on Sunday that classified responses from the security agencies led her to suspend Englman’s probe until a hearing to be held in July.

“In view of the complex security reality, the planned scope of the investigation, which will deal, among other things, with the combat support system and core operational issues, and the preparation required to respond to it [the investigation] at the current time… I order the suspension of the investigation procedures in everything that relates to the IDF and Shin Bet,” Canfy-Steinitz ruled.

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Englman’s probe was also opposed by Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi as well as the State Attorney’s office.

In February, the Israel Defense Forces’ Chief of Staff, Lt.-Gen. Herzi Halevi ordered an internal probe of the military’s failures of October 7.

That inquiry will investigate the IDF General Staff, military intelligence, the deficiencies of Gaza border defenses, and general operational matters. Its mandate does not include decisions made by the political echelon.

A separate independent commission of inquiry with a broader mandate including political failures is expected to take place after the war.

Such commissions have broader authority to summon witnesses and collect evidence, and are headed by a senior Supreme Court justice.

At least 1,200 people were killed, and 252 Israelis and foreigners were taken hostage in Hamas’s attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on October 7. Of the 116 remaining hostages, more than 30 are believed dead.