'Gaps and Failures' Found in Israel's Preparedness to Gaza Tunnel Threat

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Drilling on the Gaza border in search for Hamas tunnels, February 3, 2015.
Drilling on the Gaza border in search for Hamas tunnels, February 3, 2015.Credit: Eliyahu Hershkovitz

State Comptroller Joseph Shapira’s draft report on the threat of tunnels from the Gaza Strip, which he handed on Thursday to senior officials, “indicates gaps and failures, some of them serious, in preparations to meet the threat of the tunnels and in dealing with them.”

Shapira gave the report to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot for their responses, after which a final report will be written. He said the gaps and failures were present both in the years before the war in Gaza the summer of 2014, and during the fighting itself. The report also includes a section on security in Israeli communities bordering the Gaza Strip.

The state comptroller’s office began working on the first report on the subject in February 2014 before Operation Protective Edge, which took place in the summer of that year in the Gaza Strip. Work on the report was expanded after the operation, in September, when the department in the state comptroller’s office that deals with defense establishment oversight announced it would be publishing a comprehensive report on various aspects of the operation. 

The report was expanded after the state controller’s office received dozens of questions and complaints about the conduct of security and other bodies during and in the weeks followin the fighting. 

The state comptroller announced at the time that it would be studying the decision-making processes, both political and military, during the operation, especially in light of claims that Israel had contravened international law and that the state had not overseen the army’s actions as required. The report was also to study internal investigation procedures in the Israel Defense Forces and the government. Most of the report has yet to be completed but Shapira instructed that the part dealing with the tunnels be given to the relevant officials already, to receive their responses, “in light of the urgency emerging regarding the tunnels on all fronts.”

The final report, including the senior officials’ responses, is expected to include sections on technological responses to the problem of the tunnels, protection of civilians from rockets and missiles and IDF actions vis-à-vis international law.

The draft of another section on Operation Protective Edge is expected to focus on decision-making and workings of the inner cabinet and the relationship between that body and the military, particularly with regard to the tunnel threat.

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