'The tunnel threat is serious - but not existential'

IDF Chief of Staff speaks about State Comptroller's report, says Israel has hit 'hundreds of targets' since 2014.

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Gadi Eizenkot during Wednesday's meeting in the Knesset
Gadi Eizenkot during Wednesday's meeting in the Knesset
Yonatan Sindel, Flash 90

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot participated on Wednesday morning in a discussion analyzing the State Comptroller's report on 2014's Operation Protective Edge.

State Comptroller Yosef Shapira also participated in the meeting.

At the beginning of the meeting, Eizenkot said, "I see great importance in this process of criticizing and analyzing past decisions. It helps us improve.

"This process of learning lessons from Operation Protective Edge began the moment the operation was finished. We created a number of committees, and the State Comptroller's report added additional insights and provided a plan of action to implement them.

"During Operation Protective Edge, the IDF had to deal with - for the first time - an underground threat of over 30 terror tunnels. A third of these tunnels infiltrated into Israeli territory.

"Thirteen IDF soldiers were killed when terrorists entered the tunnels. Properly dealing with this tunnels would not have been possible without prior intelligence information.

"The IDF is currently fighting on five fronts: Gaza, Sinai, Judea and Samaria, Syria, and Lebanon. In addition, we are preparing to deal with the Iranian nuclear threat.

"We cannot properly deal with every one of these threats.

"Since Operation Protective Edge, we have placed the tunnel threat very high on our priority list. We've spent 1.2 billion NIS on dealing with it, and we have a 3 billion NIS budget intended to build a blockade, gather information, and more. Our abilities - attack, defense, and intelligence - have improved much. I don't know of any armies who manage to deal with tunnel threats better than we do."

"The tunnel threat is severe, but it's not an existential or strategic threat," Eizenkot emphasized. "We don't need to scare ourselves silly. The situation in Gaza is very delicate. We don't let the quiet confuse us, and the situation may change quickly in the near future.

"Since Operation Protective Edge, we have had a policy of responding more harshly than necessary. We need them to know we have no patience for rockets. The targets we bomb are always important, and we no longer bother with insignificant targets.

"We've hit hundreds of Hamas targets since the end of Operation Protective Edge. Hamas right now is afraid of us - but they may still decide to attack.

"We are doing everything possible to bring back the bodies of kidnapped soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul."

The State Comptroller said, "I want to specially praise IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot for dealing so well with the points mentioned in the report."

He also said he would hand the report's fourth section in to the government in the coming days.

איזנקוט והמבקר בכנסת

צילום: יונתן סינדל, פלאש 90