Former defense minister: We knew about Hezbollah tunnels but kept it quiet

Since 2014, Israel deliberately kept knowledge of Hezbollah terror tunnels hushed, Ya’alon said.

By Yona Schnitzer/TPS 

Former Defense Minister Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon told Army Radio Thursday that in 2014, during his time as defense minister, he was aware of the existence of attack tunnels along the Lebanese border. However, he purposefully denied any such scenario, he said, in order to calm the fears of civilians living by the border as well as to mislead Hezbollah.

“In 2014, I said there were no tunnels despite knowing that there were, in order to reassure residents of the north,” said Ya’alon, adding that he “didn’t want to alert the enemy. [I wanted] to prevent them from knowing that we know.

“Of course there are cases in which we say things while the reality is the opposite in order to mislead the other side,” Ya’alon continued, “Since 2014 we’ve been preparing, we took everything seriously. We’ve known since 2014, but we don’t need to tell the whole truth so that the other side can know.”

Meanwhile, Operation Northern Shield entered its third day on Thursday, as the IDF Engineering Corps continued to expose and demolish tunnels dug by Hezbollah into Israel from Lebanon.

On Thursday, the IDF revealed that a special joint team of the IDF Intelligence Directorate and the Northern Command has been leading the efforts to expose the tunnels since 2014, which included gathering information regarding the tunnels and their locations as well as devising ways and methods to combat them.

“After Operation Protective Edge (in 2014), we operated under the assumption that Hezbollah is cooperating and sharing information with Hamas, also in terms of tunnels,” said Lt. Colonel Avshalom Dadon of the IDF Engineering Corps.

“The systems that we are implementing have proven themselves in Gaza, and they are now being used for this mission up north. We prepared for this,” he added. “The project combines technological and seismic systems, which are part of the complete response to the threat [from Hezbollah]. We are operating and will continue to do everything in order to deprive Hezbollah of this crucial component of their future plans.”