'Drive to kidnap IDF soldiers up since Schalit deal'
LAST UPDATED: 12/28/2011 16:58
On 3rd anniversary of Cast Lead, senior IDF commander says terror groups in Gaza working to abduct soldiers, digging tunnels.
A Palestinian transports goods in a tunnel. Photo: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa / Reuters
Warning Hamas it will be hit hard in a future conflict, a senior IDF commander
said on Wednesday that motivation to kidnap Israeli soldiers has significantly
increased since the prisoner swap for Gilad Schalit.
According to Col.
Tal Hermoni, commander of the Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade, Hamas, Islamic
Jihad and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip are working to abduct Israeli
soldiers and are digging tunnels that could be used in such an
IDF trains for soldier abduction scenario
'Hamas refuses to abandon policy of IDF kidnappings'
“We believe that since there are additional Palestinian prisoners
in Israeli jails that these groups are working to kidnap soldiers,” Hermoni said
during a briefing to reporters along the border with Egypt.
people working in Gaza “on a daily basis” in the tunnel industry, and Israel was
investing significant resources to gather intelligence and locate those tunnels
to limit the element of surprise if they were to be used in a future attack, he
said. The terrorists who kidnapped tank gunner Schalit in June 2006 infiltrated
Israel via a 500-meter-long tunnel they had dug under the Gaza border near the
Kerem Shalom crossing.
Hermoni said the abduction of a soldier would have
“strategic significance” for Israel, and the IDF was working on several levels
to prevent such an attack and to thwart one if it were launched.
orders about how commanders and soldiers should operate in an abduction attack
were being clarified and explained to all the relevant ranks within the
The Jerusalem Post recently revealed that the General Staff was
working to codify procedures that soldiers will be expected to follow if they
have the opportunity to thwart the abduction of a comrade, even at the risk of
endangering his life.
Turning to the border with Egypt, Hermoni said the
IDF was investing new resources and putting in place intelligence- gathering
systems to prevent attacks from Sinai. In August, eight Israelis were killed when terrorists crossed into Israel.
“We are speeding up the closure of
the border with the [Sinai border] fence and plan to compete it by the end of
2012,” Hermoni said. “The challenges along the border are great. We are facing
an increase in African migrants seeking refuge and work in Israel as well as
criminal smuggling of drugs in addition to potential terrorist
Senior IDF sources said, though, that with the closure of the
Egyptian border, there was a fear that terrorists would try to cross into Israel
Turning to the third anniversary of the Cast Lead offensive,
Hermoni said the IDF believed the deterrence that was created following the
operation was still in place, and that Hamas was currently not interested in a
renewed large-scale conflict with Israel.
“The IDF created a new security
reality after Cast Lead; before then dozens of rockets were fired daily. Today
that is not the case,” Hermoni said.
The brigade commander stressed that
the army was prepared to carry out a large offensive if needed.
ready at all times” he said. “Hamas will be the one to pay the price.”