A Hamas operative in an underground tunnel in Gaza.
Israel could face catastrophe if it fails to implement the lessons that come out of the State Comptroller’s Report on Hamas’s terrorist tunnels, Yoav Gallant, a member of the security cabinet and former IDF general, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
Speaking a day before the report is released, Gallant, the housing and construction minister and former OC Southern Command, said the 2014 Gaza war was mostly characterized by an “underestimation” of the tunnel threat and a “dismissive attitude” within the defense establishment of Hamas’s offensive capabilities.
Gallant placed the blame squarely on former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon and former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz. Both have, in recent days, tried to downplay the significance of the report, claiming the war was actually a success.
“By calling it a success, Benny Gantz is saying that what happened is the standard,” Gallant said. “This is dangerous, since it sets a low bar for what soldiers will strive to achieve in the future and I am not prepared to accept that.”
Hamas tunnel found in southern Gaza
Gallant served as head of the Southern Command between 2005 and 2010. While tunnels were known to exist – in 2006, for example, a tunnel was used to cross into Israel and abduct soldier Gilad Schalit – Gallant said it wasn’t until 2010 that Hamas turned the tunnels into a “strategic weapon.” By 2014, he said, Hamas had 30 tunnels that crossed into Israel.
“You know they have 30 tunnels and you know that there is a strong chance we are going to be at war with them in the near future,” he said. “That means you need to consolidate efforts, create technological solutions, prepare troops, train and procure special equipment. The problem is that none of this was done.”
Gallant said it was wrong to look at the security cabinet as the entity responsible for conducting war. It is true, he said, the cabinet makes decisions on a strategic level – like going to war or accepting a ceasefire – but the responsibility for the management of a war rests with the defense minister and the chief of staff.
“We failed,” he said of the IDF’s performance during the war. “We were not prepared and the soldiers were not trained correctly. There was no set plan for what to do.”
For this not to happen again, Gallant said the IDF needs to implement the report’s lessons.
“The region is watching and is asking if Israel has become weak,” he said. “We need to make sure that in a future war – one that is a real war – we are prepared.”
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