Severe failures in preparedness for tunnel threat, State Comptroller finds

Shapira delivered the draft of the report due to the urgent nature of the tunnel threat on all fronts.

A Hamas operative in an underground tunnel in Gaza‏ (photo credit: screenshot)
A Hamas operative in an underground tunnel in Gaza‏
(photo credit: screenshot)
State Comptroller Joseph Shapira delivered the draft of a report to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and top defense officials on Thursday that charged there were “grave deficiencies” in preparedness for the Hamas attack-tunnel threat that presaged the 2014 Gaza war.
The criticism of how the issue was handled is part of a wider review of war-making decisions before and during Operation Protective Edge. The review started shortly after the 50-day conflict ended with a cease-fire in September 2014.
The comptroller plans to soon deliver the draft of a separate section of the report about the security cabinet’s decision- making and its coordination with the military echelons during the war.
The report followed the collapse of a Hamas attack tunnel in Gaza Zeitoun area on Wednesday, the third such incident in the past few weeks.
The full Comptroller’s Report was scheduled to include additional sections on the technical side of the response to the tunnel problem, preparedness to defend the home-front against rocket and missile threats and to what extent IDF targeting and war policy complied with international law.
Shapira said a year ago that the international law aspect of the report would be handled by three outside experts, Prof. Michael Newton, Prof. Moshe Halberthal and Prof. Miguel Deutsch.
In June 2015, the UNHRC report on Gaza said it awaited the comptroller’s version after several IDF reports addressed only individual cases, but not overall targeting policy.
Since July 2014, the IDF has been accused of being unprepared for the scope of the tunnel threat.
The criticism follows incidents in which surprise attacks emanating from tunnels led to some of the most deadly incidents for the IDF during the war.
Some politicians and military officials have tried to shift the blame to the intelligence sector, but a 2007 state comptroller report on the issues belies this argument.
The 2007 report mentioned the necessity of oversight and even intervention by the political leadership.
Among those mentioned as being involved in the tunnel effort at the time were then-IDF chief and current Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, then deputy IDF chief Dan Halutz, then head of Ground Forces Command Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yiftach Ron-Tal and the head of the IDF’s Engineering Corps at the time, Brig.- Gen. (res.) Shimon Daniel.
The 2007 report was issued after several incidents in which soldiers were killed or kidnapped, most notably Gilad Schalit, in a 2006 surprise Hamas attack via a tunnel.
Maariv Online contributed to this report.