Bennett’s mention of the mission was simply “unnecessary bragging,” a defense official said.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
After Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s dramatic announcement that the Mossad had embarked on a mission to determine the whereabouts of long-missing Israeli soldier Ron Arad, critics questioned whether or not the operation was anything to brag about.
“Last month, Mossad agents, men and women, embarked on a complex, wide-ranging and daring operation to find the remains and whereabouts of Ron Arad,” said the premier.
Arad, an Israeli Air Force navigator who was taken captive in Lebanon by Shi’a forces in 1986, has not been heard from since 1988.
A report from the Mossad and the IDF, which was released in 2016, indicated that Arad had likely perished then.
A report from Channel 12 News on Monday night quoted Mossad chief David Barnea as saying the mission was a “brave, bold, complex but failed operation. A failure.”
“The operation to gather new information about Arad did not succeed and brought no new information,” Kan News reported.
Channel 13 quoted a senior intelligence official as blasting Bennett for making “political use of a sensitive operation.”
Another official, speaking to Haaretz, said that the mission “didn’t yield the desired results and the information we were hoping for wasn’t uncovered.”
Bennett’s mention of the mission was simply “unnecessary bragging,” the official said.
Yaakov Amidror, former National Security Adviser, told Ynet that Bennett’s statements were the latest in a series of statements made by government officials about Mossad activity.
Previously, it would have been unthinkable to make such public revelations, Amidror said, and urged a return to a discrete policy on Mossad operations.
“Every effort should be made to keep the Mossad behind a fence of greater modesty than has been the practice lately,” he chided.
Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana refuted the criticism in a Ynet interview, saying that Bennett and former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had made the decision to reveal the operations with the assurance that it would not hurt national security.
“I’m sure the prime ministers are very sensitive to this question, so they both carefully considered the extent of the damage to the Mossad’s capacity due to these statements and concluded that there would be no damage at all or the damage would be minimal,” Kahana said.