Daily Israel Report

Livni Asks: 'Why Destroy Tunnels Before They Were Used?'

Justice Minister: Israel agreed to a ceasefire even though the tunnels were known about for years - because they hadn't been used yet.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 7/20/2014, 12:07 PM

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (HaTnua) explained over the weekend why she agreed to a ceasefire - even though the IDF had not yet managed to destroy the Hamas tunnels network. 

She said that until the infiltration of 13 well-armed terrorists into Israel this past Thursday – most of whom scattered back into Gaza after seeing that they had been detected by Israeli forces – the problem "still hadn't taken place." The Thursday incident, which could have led to a catastrophic attack on Israel, is largely seen as the final straw that led to the ground-operation into Gaza.

A Channel Two news anchor asked Livni over the weekend how it developed that the government basically agreed to a ceasefire on Tuesday, while on Thursday it suddenly "remembered" that "the tunnels are a strategic problem that must be urgently taken care of." 

Livni answered, "First of all, in truth the tunnels aren't something new…. There is a difference between a problem that still hasn't taken
place and you still don't see it inside the territory of the State of Israel, [and between] that infiltration [from the tunnel] at Sufah that basically meant that it's not only a tunnel, but that Hamas continues and intends to use them inside Israel against the citizens of Israel."

It was Livni's veto last week that delayed the ground operation into Gaza for two full days.

Media analyst Dr. Aaron Lerner noted sardonically that this statement by the former Foreign Minister and Prime Ministerial candidate, a current member of Israel's security cabinet, "helps to provide a very important understanding as to how the very top of Israel's leadership analyzes situations and makes policy decisions." The guiding principle, he wrote, is "there is a difference between a problem that still hasn't taken place..."

In actuality, Livni overlooked the fact that the tunnels had been used successfully in the past against Israel. It happened in June 2006, when Hamas tunneled under an IDF outpost, killed two soldiers, and abducted Gilad Shalit back into Gaza. Hamas held him hostage for more than five years, until Israel released over 1,000 terrorists to secure his release.

Among the many tunnels from Gaza to Israel and back detected by the IDF in the past few days, one led to Kibbutz Netiv HaAsarah, on the northern border of Gaza and four miles south of Ashkelon. "If Hamas had accepted the ceasefire last week," Lerner added, "that tunnel and the many others now being discovered would still be intact - waiting for use at a time that most serves the program of the enemy."

Lerner concluded: "Oslo, retreat from the Gaza Strip and Philadelphi Corridor, 'quiet for quiet', as well as the many initiatives to trade the Golan for a piece of paper that only failed because of an uncooperative Assad, are all illustrations of how policymakers had reasonably accurate technical information about security ramifications, but chose to downgrade or ignore the information since the technically possible scenarios had yet to play out."