Ya'alon: Zero tolerance for Hamas attacks

Defense Minister welcomes IDF tunnel discovery, says Hamas 'free' to care about Palestinian lives after the exposure.

Arutz Sheva staff , | updated: 12:47 PM

Moshe Yaalon
Moshe Yaalon
Yonatan Sindel / Flash 90

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Likud) welcomed the IDF's discovery of a terror tunnel Monday, noting it as a strategic step in defeating Hamas's "informational war." 

"The exposure of a Hamas terror tunnel by the IDF and the security establishment near the Gaza border is an important operational achievement and the result of the very extensive effort of the State of Israel on the subject in recent years," said Ya'alon.

"We have no illusions about Hamas's intentions," he continued. "Even before Operation Protective Edge, and of course afterwards, we have been devoting considerable efforts - technological, operational, and intelligence - to detect tunnels in Gaza." 

"During the last several years we have found many tunnels, and we continue to make strenuous efforts to do so," he added. "Our mission to discover tunnels, most of which are far from the public eye, involves the best forces of the State of Israel - from the army, the Shin Bet, and the defense establishment."

"The search for tunnels is a priority of the security forces and the IDF," Ya'alon emphasized, "We do not spare any method to do so. The tunnels we are dealing with are very complex, and the State of Israel is a world leader in the field. This struggle requires us to have determination, creativity, responsibility and discretion on the part of those involved."

"In recent months, Hamas has experienced the effects of the collapse of tunnels they have dug - they have been killed on the job and now [face] exposure," he continued, adding that Hamas "can can draw conclusions, cease engaging in [terror] and will be free to help improve the quality of life in Gaza [and] the welfare of the residents there."

"We do not want confrontation, but if Hamas tries to challenge the State of Israel and disrupt the lives of residents of communities near the Gaza Strip, he will be beaten with a very hard blow. We will not tolerate such attempts."

'Blow to sovereignty'

Colonel MK Moti Yogev (Jewish Home), former Chief of Staff of the Gaza Division, also referred to the discovery of the tunnel and commented, "The discovery of the tunnel does not come as a surprise - not to anyone who knows anything about this and not to the public."

He added that the tunnel merely expands what we already know about Hamas, as well as, by proxy, about incitement from the Palestinian Authority (PA). 

"Only on the basis of deepening Israeli intelligence and our operational capabilities on offense and defense can we be safe," said Yogev.

"Good for the IDF for uncovering a terrorist tunnel dug by Hamas from Gaza into Israel and thwarting them," Transportation Minister MK Yisrael Katz (Likud) stated Monday, adding that the tunnel had been watched for some time and that the tunnel is indeed "a serious blow to the sovereignty of the State of Israel and an offensive operation in every respect." 

"We cannot accept this kind of activity over time," he added. "And to all the world's hypocrites who always accuse Israel: what do you say now? How would you react if hostile elements were digging terror tunnels under your homes?" 

International ramifications

MK Haim Yellin (Yesh Atid), former head of the Eshkol Regional Council and a resident of the Gaza Belt, congratulated the army on the discovery of the tunnel. 

"I want to congratulate the army and all security officials who found the tunnel and those who stand around the clock protecting the citizens of Israel." 

"The tunnels are a tactical and strategic threat to Israel," Yellin added, noting that it should be destroyed "immediately." 

Yellin also turned to Netanyahu, saying the affair was "his responsibility." 

"It's in your hands to attack each tunnel and attack every terrorist cell; your responsibility is also to establish a proper political climate and bring calm to the region," he said, urging him to prevent Hamas from "initiating a long-term truce with moderate Arab countries, the US, and Europe." 

Political mudslinging

Yisrael Beytenu chairman MK Avigdor Liberman used the opportunity to blast the current government.

"The tunnel uncovered by the IDF constitutes a serious violation of Israeli sovereignty and further proves that the policy of containment led by [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu and Ya'alon allow Hamas to continue to grow stronger, work in the area and endanger the lives of the residents of the south." 

"Netanyahu government's irresponsibility endangers the lives of the residents of Israel," MK Arel Margalit (Zionist Union) stated Monday. "Instead of striking a pose in the Golan, like a cowboy, Netanyahu should protect the residents of the south, before it is too late."

"If we don't change our policy, Hamas will continue to dig, to arm themselves, to grow stronger and undermine the foundations of Israeli security," he added.