IDF Commander: Locating Tunnels Will Take Time and Patience

Thirteen days into ground op, Paratroopers Brigade progressing in its operation, says tunnel threat more complex than in past.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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An Israeli army officer gives journalists a tour, Friday, July 25, 2014, of a tunnel allegedly used by Palestinian militants for cross-border attacks, at the Israel-Gaza Border.
An Israeli army officer gives journalists a tour, Friday, July 25, 2014, of a tunnel allegedly used by Palestinian militants for cross-border attacks, at the Israel-Gaza Border. Credit: AP
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

After 13 days of ground operations in the Gaza Strip, Paratroopers Brigade commanders say that time is relative matter. Locating the tunnels will take more time and patience, they say. The destruction in the area is massive; many homes have been shelled and there are no local people to be seen, only soldiers, engineering equipment, and tanks.

“Why has the enemy gone underground?” asks the brigade commander. “It’s because he doesn’t feel comfortable fighting above ground. The main significance of that is enormous damage, because there is no delicate way to do this.” One of the battalion commanders, Lt. Col. Yoav, adds, “The ones who suffer the most, even when we try to avoid it, are the civilians. They’ve abandoned everything here. There’s an enemy, but he isn’t visible. He just emerges from the tunnels.”

The Paratroopers Brigade progressed in its operations to additional neighborhoods in the Khan Yunis area on Wednesday, after days in which the forces had focused their activity on the tunnels in the agricultural areas a few kilometers from the border. Lt. Col. Yoav said that he didn’t feel that the fighting was stagnating at all, that every night he was making progress and encountering new surprises.

Given the talk of the fighting being halted and rumors of cease-fires being floated all the time, the soldiers said they would be disappointed if that happened.

“We want to complete the mission,” said Maj. Nir, the brigade’s operations officer. “There’s no doubt that this threat, the tunnel threat, is much more complex than it was in the past. There’s a real underground city here. Every day we discover more and more shafts in these tunnels. It would be great if Tel Aviv had an underground city like this.”

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