Expert Says Terror Tunnels a Threat in the Galilee
For a long time he spoke to every official, every minister, and every IDF Chief of Staff over the threat of terror tunnels - in Gaza and elsewhere - but the system preferred to silence him.
Now, Geologist and res. Col. Yossi Langotsky speaks to Arutz Sheva for the first time since Operation Protective Edge began 28 days ago about his perspective on the current conflict, and on how war tunnels may continue to threaten Israel despite the operation.
Col. Langotsky commanded for five years in Operational Intelligence and won the Israel Security Prize twice. Despite his expertise, however, his warnings about terror tunnels were apparently ignored.
"For nine years I raised hell, and said [terrorists are] digging tunnels into Israeli territory, and the state security system is not organized with enough seriousness required to deal with the intensity of the threat," he recounted. This operation, he noted, is the result.
Langotsky, while happy that the tunnels are being taken care of in Gaza, noted that the IDF's partial withdrawals indicates that the entire threat will probably not be eradicated; Israel will have to destroy terror tunnels again, he predicts - and is not aware of the danger, even now.
"It's amazing to me that, less than a year ago, the Army removed the guards posted near several Gaza belt communities," he fires, referring to a controversial IDF decision earlier this year. "It indicates that they have not internalized the real danger."
Terror tunnels along the Lebanese border 'a possibility'
Langotsky added that terror tunnels still may be a threat in the Galilee, near the border with Lebanon. During his stint as advisor on terror tunnels, the Col. met with then-Northern Command Chief Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, who was attentive to the information and statistics Longotsky presented him regarding the tunnels and agreed on the threat level - but was later transferred to a different role and was unable to follow up on the recommendations.
The new commander, Langotsky said, never addressed the problem, and the IDF silenced his concerns. "I had tortured the system [over the issue] and they preferred to keep me quiet," he said.
Langotsky had presented a scenario much like the terror tunnels between North Korea and South Korea, a scenario that has been compared more than once to the terror tunnel situation in Gaza. There, he said, the tunnels are under the demilitarized zone between the two countries - some four kilometers - but are even wider and longer than that distance.
Langotsky stressed that the North Korean tunnels are for launching attacks; they are not intended to smuggle goods "but are beyond that."
"The goal is to be able to get very large armed forces into South Korea," he said. "The size of the tunnels there are two meters by two meters along the four-kilometer [demilitarized zone]; one kilometer is in South Korea itself, and the tunnels are between 60-120 meters underground."
Langotsky indicated that geologically, the ground in the Galilee is softer and easier to dig compared to the earth in the Koreas, and added that the close relationship between Hezbollah and North Korea is already well-known. North Korea has reportedly played an important role in helping Hamas dig its own tunnels from Gaza, as well as providing them with rockets.
The IDF must brush up on that relationship, he said, and note the transfer of equipment and intelligence between the two countries. While Hezbollah has so far only managed to antagonize Israel - not begin an all-out war - the scenario is not impossible, he said.
The tunnels in North Korea are designed to bring thousands of soldiers into enemy territory at once - a move which could severely disrupt the military equilibrium in Israel in the event Hezbollah launches a similar attack.
But action must be taken now, he said, before the situation in Lebanon mirrors that in Gaza.
"The facts were known," he said, regarding terror tunnels in the Gaza belt. "The system went to sleep for a few years and did not do what needed to be done."