A resident of Nahal Oz walks next to a concrete wall to protect the local kindergarten, just outside the northern Gaza Strip .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Residents living in southern Israeli communities near the Gaza border have responded with simultaneous relief and renewed confidence in the defense establishment along with concern after the IDF announced that it had detected a cross-border Hamas tunnel in recent days that reaches from Gaza into Israel.
However, the southern residents have stressed that the relative quiet in the area is temporary, and urged the security and defense establishment to continue efforts to detect Gaza infiltration tunnels.
Simon Azoulai, a 50-year-old father of three, lauded the military for its efforts to confront the work of terrorists from the Gaza Strip when speaking with The Jerusalem Post
's sister publication Ma'ariv
"We were just as surprised as everyone to learn about it. We have figured that there have been such attempts," he said, adding that "We rely on the army to do its work in a proper fashion. That means engaging in concentrated efforts regarding the matter."
"We haven't heard the sound of digging," Azoulai noted, stating that "The exposed tunnel was located 1.5 kilometers from my community, and perhaps that is why we didn't hear [excavation noises] as in other places."
He added that his community is witness to the army's work, and lauded the military for investing great amounts of effort and tools.
"It gives us a little peace of mind knowing that security forces are working to hinder Hamas activities," he asserted.
Meanwhile, the heads of the southern communities in the Gaza periphery issued a joint statement saying the discovery of the tunnel in Israeli territory "presents us with a complex reality."
"On the one hand, the exposure of the tunnel makes it clear that there is good reason to have an increased sense of vigilance. On the other hand, we praise the security establishment for locating the tunnel and adding to the protection of the residents in the border communities," the leaders said.
The community heads added that while the detection of the tunnel was important, the timely construction of a barrier along the Gaza border was needed.
"We call for the completion of the barrier, along the entire length and components of the border, to occur as quickly as possible," they stressed.
Additionally, Gadi Yarkoni, who heads the Eshkol Regional Council where the tunnel was detected, said that while the IDF is doing everything to reduce the threat posed from Gaza, additional funds are needed to protect the perimeter.
"Without building a barrier, the residents in the Gaza periphery live in the face of a much greater threat," he underlined.