The Israel Defense Forces is not aware of any tunnels under the northern border, its regional commander told local authority leaders in the north on Monday, after the community heads urged Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to take the threat seriously and not cut security budgets for the region.
GOC Northern Command Maj. Gen. Yair Golan said that rockets remain the main threat in the area, but the IDF is also prepared to deal with any potential tunnel threat.
Northern residents and local authority heads have voiced concerns about Hezbollah attack tunnels being dug from the Lebanon side of the border into Israeli territory.
Sivan Yehieli, head of the Kfar Vradim regional council and chair of the Forum of Frontline Communities in the North, said the meeting was arranged in light of the tunnel fear, and to receive an analysis of the army’s readiness in the north and lessons learned from Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.
“We understand that right now there is no systemic technological solution to the issue of the [attack] tunnels, but every suspicion of a tunnel is thoroughly investigated,” Yehieli said. “We came out with the feeling that the Northern Command is in control of things and knows what it is doing, and we know what we have to do in case tension arises on the northern border.”
After the overview by Maj. Gen. Golan, the Home Front Command’s Brig. Gen. Dedi Simhi presented a review of the lessons learned from the Gaza conflict, and how these would be implemented in the event of fighting in the north.
Yehieli said that when the meeting was over, the forum leaders decided to make a joint request to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon to immediately cancel the decision to make cuts to the communities’ security budgets, cutting back on security-coordinator positions and alert squads, and cuts in budgets for protection for communities next to the border.
“Residents of the north are aware of the security threats from across the border,” Yehieli said. “I want to thank the Northern Command and Maj. Gen. Golan for the close cooperation and trust between the army and the communities here. The Israeli government must also give its attention to the northern front and the security threats it poses. Despite the eight years of quiet [since the Second Lebanon War], we must not become complacent.”
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