State Comptroller Yosef Shapira on Thursday handed over the outline of a report he is preparing on the way the government is handling the tunnel terror threat in southern Israel – and the state is not performing well, the report said. The report says that there have been “serious lapses” in the way the government and IDF have been handling the threat, and that little has been done to prevent a repeat of the incidents that occurred before and during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014.
The report relates mainly to the incidents that occurred during that period. Hamas used the tunnels during the war to carry out attacks, such as the one that killed IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, Hy”d, during the war, when he descended into a tunnel to blow it up.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon will review the report for the next week, and add their comments, after which the report will be completed and released officially.
Last week Hamas head Ismail Haniyeh said that the tunnels were a central component of Hamas’s attack strategy against Israel. Haniye said that “the men of Hamas are digging their way to the liberation of Jerusalem,” and that “we continue to dig tunnels in east Gaza and conduct missile tests in west Gaza.”
For months, rumors have circulated that Hamas has taken up its tunnel-building activities again, after halting in the wake of Operation Protective Edge last year. At the end of last week Channel One broadcast a news report that quoted dozens of residents of the towns and farms living along the border area, who claim to have heard sounds of construction under their homes – drilling, hammering, and other similar sounds, as well as voices speaking Arabic. Several residents recorded the sounds, and they were played back for the hundreds of thousands of people who tuned in for the program.
In the wake of the report, the IDF has begun examining complaints and reports of underground activity in the Gaza border area, in order to determine if Gaza terrorists are indeed building tunnels into Israel. Speaking to Israel Radio Tuesday, former National Security Council head Giora Eiland said that while the IDF was digging up areas near the Gaza border where the sounds had been heard, nothing had been found yet – but that could mean that the army was not looking in the right place, or that Hamas was digging tunnels to a depth below the area that the IDF had dug.