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'IDF must be prepared for possible war with Hamas'

Southern Command officers warn political echelon may 'lose patience' and demand immediate action against Hamas terror tunnels.

Cynthia Blank,

IDF Artillery Corps soldier during Op. Protective Edge
IDF Artillery Corps soldier during Op. Protective Edge
Hadas Parush/Flash 90

Senior officers in the IDF's Southern Command have begun to express concerns that the security situation along Israel's border with Gaza is nearing the same levels of strain as during Operation Protective Edge. 

However, according to one officer, unlike the 2014 campaign, there is now a possibility of the Israeli army taking offensive action against Hamas' terrorist tunnels - from across the border. 

"The various units should prepare for the possibility that the political echelon will lose patience or that the threat of tunnels in the Gaza Strip will not allow for restraint, and they will try to initiate treatment of the tunnels in Palestinian territory," the officer told Walla! News. 

He added that all military units should maintain a high level of readiness for the possibility of deployment, and that exercises be conducted for entering Gaza, including the scenario of rockets being launched at IDF bases. 

Indeed, members of Security Cabinet have already suggested that Israel initiate action against the Hamas tunnels leading into Israel. 

According to a Channel 2 report on Monday, Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) recently made such a demand only to be rejected by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon. 

The two later publicly said that "on this matter we must exercise judgment and responsibility" and equated such action to attacking Hezbollah missiles or Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The topic of Hamas's terror tunnels has come back in the spotlight in recent weeks, after four tunnels collapsed in the last two weeks killing 11 Hamas terrorists.

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.

The IDF however has not ruled out the possibility that Hamas tunnels may succeed in reaching Israeli territory; all forces on the ground are being trained on how to deal with such an infiltration.