Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied Tuesday that the government was unprepared for the threat of terrorist tunnels beneath the Gaza region prior to the IDF’s entry during Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014.
“Claims that Israel was unprepared to meet the tunnel threat are without foundation,” he said.
“It has been claimed that the tunnel threat had not been presented to the Cabinet prior to Operation Protective Edge and that the Cabinet did not know about tunnels that penetrated into our territory. This is false,” he said in statement sent to media.
However, on July 18, 2014, then-Minister Tzipi Livni told Israel’s Channel 2 television news, “We knew about the tunnels, but not that they would be used.”
The statement, damning in the extreme, made it to the internet in an upload to YouTube by the Independent Media and Review Analysis (IMRA) watchdog organization.
The issue has been raised numerous times, particularly over the past several months as new tunnels have been discovered — again — disturbingly close to Israeli Jewish communities in the Gaza Belt region close to the southern border. From 11 November 2013 until 3 July 2014, the tunnel threat was presented, in its full severity, at nine separate Cabinet meetings. The protocols show this beyond all doubt, the prime minister’s office indicated.
Moreover, for six months prior to the operation, from 16 January 2013 until 9 July 2014, the Prime Minister convened six professional discussions on the issue of the tunnels.
The Defense Minister, IDF Chief-of-Staff, GOC Southern Command, head of the IDF Engineering Branch, head of the IDF Technology Branch and field commanders were among the participants in these meetings.
At these discussions, Prime Minister Netanyahu directed that operational and technological solutions be advanced to meet the tunnels threat, the PMO emphasized.
On 3 July 2014, before the start of operations and two weeks before the ground incursion, the Prime Minister ordered the IDF to prepare for a ground incursion to neutralize the tunnels.
“It is regrettable that there are those who have misled the public on substantive security issues when the facts are unequivocal and well known to those who are distorting them,” Netanyahu said.