On the eve of the release of the state comptroller’s report on 2014’s Operation Protective Edge on Tuesday, a report on Channel Two said Monday that the terror tunnel threat — which figures largely in the report — has not gone away. The report quoted IDF and government sources as saying that there were at least 15 tunnels running underground from Gaza to Israel that Hamas could use to send terrorists into Israel to conduct attacks.
That information will be listed in the report, Channel Two said, giving the lie to contentions by military and political leaders — among them Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu — that the terror tunnel threat ended with the 2014 operation, when the IDF blew up numerous terror tunnels. According to sources, the report names former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz as failing to finish the job. The latter slammed the rumors, saying that he had presented a full résumé of battle plans to the political echelon, including plans to reconquer Gaza altogether — which Gantz said in a weekend interview would have been possible.
“We were not asked to do this, and we did not make any specific recommendations,” he said. “The result of the war was a major blow to Hamas, a major disruption of their tunnel plan, the creation of an aura of fear to attack in the future,” and left an enfeebled Hamas in control of Gaza. “Would we have wanted to retake Gaza? Is there anyone who is interested in doing that again?”
One of the sharpest critics of the government’s behavior in the war was Education Minister (then Economics Minister) Naftali Bennett, who has accused the government of the time of failing to respond to information that clearly indicated what Hamas was up to. Commenting on the report, a cabinet source said that the state comptroller had “adopted Bennett’s version of things. Bennett went to the border for a photo-op with reserve soldiers, and observant soldiers said that Bennett had tried to pry from them information about the army’s next moves. He then took that information back to the Cabinet and presented those plans as his own,” the source said.