Nahal Brigade soldiers (file)
Nahal Brigade soldiers (file)IDF Spokesman's Unit

Residents of the village of Netiv Ha'asarah along the border with Gaza were met with a nasty surprise last night, when they noticed that IDF soldiers stationed to protect the community during the 50-day Operation Protective Edge had disappeared.

Troops from the Nahal infantry brigade had been withdrawn without a word to the community, which still feels vulnerable despite the destruction of over 30 "terror tunnels" dug by Hamas in preparation for attacks on that community among others. 

According to Channel Two, no alternative security force had been moved in to replace them, leaving the community feeling exposed.

That sense of vulnerability is not surprising: carefully-worded statements by military and political officials alike following the IDF's ground operation to locate and destroy the tunnels said that the military had destroyed all the tunnels it knew about - but the possibility of unknown tunnels has not been discounted.

But a military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, disputed claims of abandonment, saying that a force of Givati Brigade soldiers was still stationed nearby.

The chairwoman of the local regional council, Penina Rogolski, said the IDF was looking into the reports.

"It appears that the senior commanders don't know what's going on there. They promised us that there would be a force there all the time inside the community and there isn't anyone there. What is this? How could this happen? This is a serious error," she said.

Rogolski dismissed claims that there were still soldiers stationed outside the community.

"There is nothing of the sort. Outside of the community is (only) Gaza - at the moment they aren't protecting us."