IDF reserve officer disciplined for passing info to Bennett during Gaza op

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Israel Defense Forces took disciplinary action against a senior reserves officer who reportedly passed classified information to a government minister during Operation Protective Edge.

Israeli media on Tuesday identified the officer as former IDF Chief Rabbi Avichai Ronsky, and the government minister as Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.

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Ronsky denies that he is the reserve officer. Bennett has denied he illegally received information during the Gaza operation.

Ronsky, who was not called up for reserve duty during the Gaza operation, joined some patrols during the operation. The IDF has barred him from the headquarters of IDF units as a result of the controversy. The head of the hesder yeshiva in the West Bank settlement of Itamar, Ronsky is known to be close to Bennett. He said in an interview on Israel Channel 2 that he did not talk to Bennett during the operation.

Bennett, who served as an officer in the IDF Special Forces, takes credit for initiating the plan to destroy the Hamas tunnels from Gaza to Israel. He says he visited soldiers on numerous occasions during the Gaza conflict and met with many commanders.

“My insistence on pushing for the destruction of the terror tunnels was not because I read my horoscope. It was because I went down south daily to the field. It was because of my repeated meetings with several security and intelligence officials and various experts,” Bennett wrote on his Facebook page.

“As a member of the Security Cabinet during Operation Protective Edge I spent a great deal of time down south. I was there for the sirens, the rockets and other difficult moments. I slept many nights by residents’ homes. It is called doing my job. Should I apologize for that,” he wrote.