Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon moved to dispel any worries caused by the discovery of a Hamas-built tunnel stretching from Gaza into Israel two weeks ago, coupled with consternation over a recent decision to reallocate troops stationed inside Israeli villages close to the border.
"The foundation of security (in the south) comes from intelligence reports and preventive measures, not by two soldiers patrolling the front gate," Ya'alon said while speaking during a tour of Israel's southern defenses along the border with Gaza on Tuesday.
"We haven't removed the security wall, there is a meaningful security network in place to protect the populated areas surrounding the Gaza Strip," Ya'alon added.
The Defense Minister pointed out that there is a large army presence in the south with soldiers manning several army bases along the border. He also suggested that local communities could string together their own emergency squads to be drawn from the communities' residents.
Addressing the massive tunnel discovered two weeks ago, which was burried 20 meters underground, Ya'alon placed all of the blame on Hamas.
"There is no doubt that the responsibility for the tunnel lies with Hamas, both because they are the ruling power in the Gaza Strip and because they were the very ones who actually built the tunnel," Ya'alon charged.
"We will do everything in our power to continue preventing attacks on Israel," Ya'alon added.
When asked about Tuesday night's planned released of 26 Palestinian prisoners, Ya'alon supported the government's decision to move forward with the release, but admitted that it is a difficult pill to swallow.
"As someone who has spent his life fighting against Palestinian terror and who is familiar on a personal level with some of the prisoners being released, and who also understands the blood on their hands, it is a difficult decision," Ya'alon said.
He added that the government has a responsibility to the Israeli populace to act in Israel's interests in the long run.