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During interview with Dr. Phil, Israeli PM Netanyahu goes further than ever before in taking responsibility for Oct 7 ‘failures’

Israeli PM Netanyahu with American psychologist Phil McGraw (Photo: Screenshot)

JERUSALEM, ISRAEL — Amidst low polls and surging protests against his leadership, embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went further this week than he has ever gone before in taking a degree of responsibility for the massive political, intelligence and military failures that allowed Hamas to invade southern Israel on October 7th.

The invasion led to Hamas terrorists slaughtering some 1,200 Israelis – mostly civilians – wounding 4,000 more, kidnapping 253 Israelis, and taking them back into the terror tunnels underneath the Gaza Strip.

Until now, Netanyahu has largely resisted efforts by interviewers to explore with him his level of culpability in those failures, even while other senior military and intelligence officials have taken personal responsibility.

But Netanyahu opened up in an hour-long, exclusive interview with famed American psychologist Phil McGraw, best known as “Dr. Phil,” who flew to Israel earlier this week specifically for the interview and to meet Israeli hostage families. 

“There were failures, obviously,” Netanyahu conceded, adding that the Israeli people “deserve a thorough explanation” of what went wrong on October 7th. 

"First of all, government – the government's first responsibility is to protect the people. That's the ultimate enveloping responsibility. And the people weren't protected. We have to admit that.”

Dr. Phil then asked the longest-serving Israeli premier, “Do you hold yourself to that standard that you failed in some way?”

“I hold myself and everyone on this,” Netanyahu said.

“I think we [as a government] have to examine how it happened,” he added.

“What was the intelligence failure? What was the military failure? We have to – we can go – we can delve into it.”

That said, Netanyahu insisted that Israelis’ number one priority right now must be complete and total victory over Hamas, including destroying the final four battalions of Hamas forces – some 20,000 terrorists – hiding in the terror tunnels in Gaza.

Netanyahu vowed, respectfully, to continue sending IDF forces into Rafah, while simultaneously working hard to protect Palestinian civilians – despite fierce objections from President Joe Biden and his administration.

Last year, Dr. Phil decided not to review his contract with CBS to continue his immensely popular daytime talk show.

Sources close to McGraw say he was becoming increasingly frustrated by the woke political culture at CBS and growing efforts by network executives to prevent Dr. Phil from speaking his mind on a wide range of political and social issues.

So, McGraw made a deal with Matt Crouch, the CEO of the most watched Christian TV network in the United States – Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) – to work together to launch an entirely new TV network called the “Merit Street Network,” based on the psychologist’s belief that people should be treated on their merit, not based on their color, creed or social group. 

Last month, the network was formally launched and Dr. Phil moved to prime time.

On Thursday evening, Dr. Phil aired his full hour-long interview with Netanyahu in prime time, unedited, and without commercial interruptions.

Israeli PM Netanyahu (Photo: Screenshot)

Here is an excerpt from the transcript, lightly edited for clarity. 

DR. PHIL: There are some people, including some Israeli people, who want an explanation for how October 7th happened. And some have given explanations. Some in the military and some from the political side. Are they owed an explanation? Have you explained to the people of your point of view?

NETANYAHU: I think we're going to have to give a thorough explanation, and I think we're going to have to have a thorough examination once the war ends of exactly what happened, how it happened, and who, you know, who made it happen? That's something that you have to do. But I think right now, our goal is to achieve victory. There's no substitute for victory. There is no substitute. We can get into this discussion and we will, but right now we have to win.

DR. PHIL: Was there a military failure here? Was there a political failure?

NETANYAHU: There were failures, obviously. First of all, government – the government's first responsibility is to protect the people. That's the ultimate enveloping responsibility. And the people weren't protected. We have to admit that.

DR. PHIL: Do you hold yourself to that standard that you failed in some way?

NETANYAHU: I hold myself in everyone on this. I think we have to examine how it happened. What was the intelligence failure? What was the military failure? We have to – we can go – we can delve into it. But I think the important thing right now is to make sure that we don't have another failure because the greatest failure would be – after this horrible murder, we went right into the counterattack – now, the question is, our greatest failure will be if we don't complete it. If we allow these murderers to be there and to get control of Gaza, that will be inexcusable. And I'm focused right now on achieving this victory.

Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.

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