'We were warned of attack on Sat.'

Soldier's statement casts doubt on IDF claim it had only general warning.

idf sleeping gaza 298 ap (photo credit: AP)
idf sleeping gaza 298 ap
(photo credit: AP)
Ro'i Amitai, a solider who was wounded in the Kerem Shalom attack, revealed on Tuesday that troops had received a warning a day before the incident about a tunnel that Palestinians had dug in the area and of plans to attack soldiers. Amitai said that after the tank was attacked, its commander told soldiers to get out of the vehicle. Amitai's statement appears to strengthen the Shin Bet's claim that a specific warning had been passed on to the IDF, which claimed that there was only a general warning of an attack. IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky told the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday that there was a warning over the past 10 days on the general location between Sufa and Kerem Shalom but not specifically. As a result, both crossings were closed down. "We investigated the possibilities and warned the soldiers, as the surviving soldier said." "We have to act in a way that could bring Gilad home while protecting people from the Kassam threat. We have presented this to the diplomatic level for a decision," he added. Likud MK Yuval Steinitz said Tuesday that there had been specific warnings. "There was an unequivocal intelligence warning from the army. This was one of the failures that it wasn't taken seriously. As the soldier said and as the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said there was a warning and this is the truth." Likud MK Silvan Shalom concurred. "It is now known that there was a warning. I think the warning was very specific. There is no doubt that we should investigate the dispute between the Shin Bet which claims it forwarded specific information, including the probable location and method of the attack and the IDF. And Giora Eiland was appointed for this purpose." Senior Shin Bet sources confirmed late Sunday that they had passed specific intelligence regarding the attack to relevant officials inside the IDF. The information had included the precise location of the attack and the fact that a tunnel would be involved, but did not specify a time frame. Defense Minister Amir Peretz, however, told reporters that the IDF had only received a general warning. He said that the IDF had received a warning about a large-scale terror attack that was the background to a number of IDF operations over the last two weeks, including the targeted killing of Popular Resistance Committees leader Jamal Abu Samhadana and the recent incursion into the Gaza Strip. The warning, Peretz added, was also the reason behind Wednesday's closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing. Meanwhile, Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu lashed out at Hamas Tuesday. "We have to bring down the government of Hamas," he told the Jewish Agency Assembly at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Jerusalem. The policy of unilateralist withdrawal is only encouraging the militant Islamic extremist organizations, he added. "When the prime minister called Ahmadinejad a latter-day Hitler, I agreed with him. So how can we give land to the proxies of Iran?!" Israel must encourage a moderate leadership to emerge in the PA and only negotiate with that new leadership, he stressed.