Jerusalem Post Editorial: Hope, not tunnels

Declining to reveal specifics, he noted only that such measures are mostly hidden from public view.

By
February 10, 2016 21:56
3 minute read.
Hamas

A Hamas operative in an underground tunnel in Gaza‏. (photo credit: screenshot)

 
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IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot on Tuesday delivered a welcome measure of reassurance to some Israelis who think they hear digging underneath their homes, and some who in any case advocate a second Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank.

Rumors of IDF countermeasures have abounded recently, with perhaps the most outrageous being a proposed carpet bombing along the Gaza perimeter to surround the northern Gaza border with craters deep enough to deter tunneling. If it rains enough to fill it, we could have a moat between us and Gaza.

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Eisenkot sought to relieve fears of a renewed Gaza tunneling offensive by declaring Israel’s counter-tunnel technology to be “the best in the world” in an address before the Fourth Annual Conference in Memory of Lt.-Gen. Amnon Lipkin Shahak, held at the IDC, Herzliya.

Declining to reveal specifics, he noted only that such measures are mostly hidden from public view. But since 2013, he added, “this has been at the top of the IDF’s priority list. There has been an ongoing intelligence effort,” he added.

Eisenkot noted that under his predecessor Israel had destroyed 33 cross-border tunnels in the summer 2014 Operation Protective Edge. Hamas is making a major effort to rebuild its attack-tunnel network, he warned.

The chief of staff seemed to exaggerate Gaza violence statistics, when he declared that 2015 was the “quietest year we had in Gaza since 1970.” In 1970, it will be recalled, Israel controlled the Gaza Strip, and continued to do so until 2005.

Eisenkot was more realistic when assessing the ongoing threat of terrorism, particularly from solitary, spontaneous attackers. “How can you build an alert against a lone knife attacker, who writes [on Facebook] that he is going to attack, and sets out to do so after an hour?” He hinted that, among other exotic measures, the IDF is trying to develop intelligence on possible lone attackers via social-media monitoring. This very hi-tech monitoring technique could conceivably trace that would-be terrorist quickly enough to prevent him or her from carrying out an attack.



Nevertheless, it is reassuring to hear from the head of our military, the one charged with actually confronting terrorism both on the street and on the Gaza battlefield, that defeating terrorism is possible.

It is possible to defeat terrorism, Eisenkot said, but victory comes at a heavy cost. He noted the toll of the five-year intifada of suicide bombings from 2000 to 2005, which claimed 1,178 Israeli lives and left 15,000 wounded.

Eisenkot echoed popular opinion regarding the effects of Palestinian incitement, particularly among young children via Palestinian Authority TV. But he also noted that the adult population is deliberately incited by false accusations that Israel wants to either invade and pray in the Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount, or tear it down and build the Third Temple (though they deny the existence of the First and Second Temples).

He reflected on the constant bombardment of Palestinian incitement throughout the social media, noting that this has surfaced as a principal motif during interrogations of surviving Palestinian terrorists. “It is the same viral element that explains why tens of thousands of youths join ISIS,” he said.

On a more positive note, Eisenkot suggested that Palestinian society as a whole could be made more stable and less motivated to commit terrorism if more Palestinians had jobs – meaning jobs in Israel, as once before in saner times.

“There has been only one case of a Palestinian with an Israeli work permit who carried out an attack, and so far, one relative of a Palestinian with an Israeli work permit perpetrated a terrorist attack,” Eisenkot said.

“The workers bring money and hope home. It would be hard to imagine reality if 100,000 such people were under a closure. Their access [to jobs in Israel] is a clear Israeli interest, as is developing their economy,” the chief of staff said.

He left unsaid the possibility that the noise of digging heard by some southern res idents was actually the sound of IDF counterterrorism experts preparing some of those welcome countermeasures that are “mostly hidden from public view.”

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