Bennett Slams IDF ‘Apologetic’ Statement on Tunnel Demolition

YERUSHALAYIM -
Minister Naftali Bennett. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool)

Education Minister Naftali Bennett on Tuesday slammed what he called the “apologetic” statement from the IDF Spokesperson regarding the IDF’s demolition of a terror tunnel on Monday. “The IDF succeeded in killing terrorists who were digging a terror tunnel, equipped with explosives, that was built in order to enable the murder of Israeli women and children,” Bennett said in a social media post. “We must not apologize for our success in killing terrorists. For those who may have forgotten: The terror tunnel was blown up inside Israeli territory, and its purpose was to facilitate the murder of Israelis.”

The demolition of the tunnel Monday afternoon in an area along the Gaza border fence led to an increased security situation throughout southern Israel Monday night and Tuesday, as Islamic Jihad and other terror groups swore vengeance against Israel for the death of terrorists who were in the tunnel when the IDF destroyed it.

At least seven terrorists were killed, among them top members of Islamic Jihad, Hamas and the al-Qassam Brigades. Reports from Gaza said that several of the terrorists had been killed due to “poison gas” that Israel sent into the tunnel.

“This Israeli crime is a dangerous escalation against our people and their resistance, and an abortive attempt aiming to foil the ongoing Palestinian efforts to achieve the internal reconciliation,” Hamas said in response to the attack. “We reiterate our people’s right to defend themselves and confront the Israeli Occupation by all means available.”

Many areas in the south were declared closed military zones, and batteries of Iron Dome installations were put in position to shoot down barrages of missiles that may be fired from Gaza.

The IDF spokesperson, in an official statement, described the attack as a defensive one. “The IDF did not use any illegal explosives or materials,” the statement said, adding that the IDF had not targeted the senior officials of the terror groups. “They were in the area in order to save those trapped inside the tunnel and they were injured or killed by the explosives that were inside the tunnel.”

All IDF activity took place inside Israeli territory; indeed, the IDF had known about the tunnel, but had chosen to act only when it crossed underground into Israeli territory, the statement added.

Bennett decried what he called the apologetic tone of the statement. “As a member of the Security Cabinet since the days of Operation Protective Edge, when a decision was taken to destroy these terror tunnels, I give security forces my full support,” Bennett said. “The IDF’s purpose is to prevent terror and emerge victorious over our enemies. I call on the Defense Minister to conduct an immediate inquiry on these apologetics in the army, and call on all Cabinet members to act to destroy terrorists and terror infrastructure.”