State Comptroller: Government failed on Hamas tunnel threat

Draft of report sent to Netanyahu leveling severe criticism on Security Cabinet for not properly dealing with terror tunnels.

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Ari Yashar,

State Comptroller Yosef Shapira
State Comptroller Yosef Shapira
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

State Comptroller Yosef Shapira on Thursday sent Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu a draft of his report on Israel's treatment of Hamas's terror tunnels leading in from Gaza.

The report found serious defects in the way the government's Security Cabinet and Netanyahu prepared for and dealt with the tunnel threat, which was used by the terrorists to lethal effect in 2014 Operation Protective Edge.

Several of the failures in confronting the tunnel threat were extremely severe according to the report, which was sent to Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Likud), and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot.

The failures in dealing with the threat date back even to the years before Protective Edge and continued through the operation according to the State Comptroller's report.

Shapira reported that the state did not properly deal with the security issues for Israeli towns adjacent to Gaza, and he further sharply criticized the Security Cabinet for its functioning on the tunnel threat during Protective Edge, reports Yedioth Aharonoth.

The fact that the comptroller condemned the government for severe defects even in the draft stage of his report is seen as being an indicator of just how serious the failures were.

Criticism over the handling of the tunnel threat was first leveled by the State Comptroller's office against the government even before Protective Edge back in February 2014.

The draft of the report will soon be fleshed out further with a chapter addressing the decision making process of the Security Cabinet and its functionality, as well as the interaction between the Cabinet and the military echelon in regards to the tunnel threat and other matters.

In its final version the report will also address the technological response to the tunnel issue, preparations to defend Israeli civilians from rockets fired by terrorists in Gaza, and IDF activity in terms of international law.

The topic of Hamas's terror tunnels has come back in the spotlight in recent weeks, after three tunnels collapsed in the last two weeks killing 11 Hamas terrorists. Palestinian TV on Wednesday allegedly showed footage of IDF machinery searching for tunnels under the Gazan border.

According to some estimates Hamas has succeeded in again digging tunnels into Israeli sovereign territory, and Israeli officials have sought to play down fears from residents in southern Israel who say they have heard Hamas diggers underneath their homes.

Just this Sunday Netanyahu responded to sharp criticism from Opposition leader MK Yitzhak Herzog (Zionist Union) on the topic, after Herzog accused the government of waiting for the terrorists to use the tunnels to attack Israeli civilians.

Ironically Netanyahu's response later on Sunday essentially confirmed Herzog's criticism, as he vowed to act - only after Hamas attacked first. The Prime Minister said, "if we are attacked from the tunnels in the Gaza Strip we will act with very great strength against Hamas."








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