IDF Chief of Staff: Hamas tunnels not an existential threat

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot said that Hamas’ underground tunnel network does not pose an existential threat to the Jewish state.

Although somewhat downplaying the national security threat of an underground terror tunnel network, the IDF’s chief of staff tacitly acknowledged shortcomings before Israel’s military operation against Hamas in 2014.

IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, speaking before the Knesset’s State Control Committee on Wednesday, said that the threat of an underground tunnel network by the Hamas terrorist organization controlling the Gaza Strip is not an existential one to Israel.

“The underground threat is most serious, and that is how we treat it, but I don’t think it’s right to define it as an existential or strategic threat, and to intimidate ourselves,” Eisenkot said, adding that Israel has “many threats” such as Iran and its proxy in Lebanon, the Hezbollah terrorist organization.

Eisenkot added that the IDF has invested NIS one billion in containing the threat posed by underground tunnel networks from Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, as well as approximately NIS 3 billion on additional intelligence.

Eisenkot addressed a recent report by Israel’s State Comptroller that found Israeli senior officials to have fallen short in the months leading up to Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in 2014. “The army has never faced a subterranean challenge with the scope and depth of what we uncovered during Operation Protective Edge,” Eisenkot conceded, according to Times of Israel.

“We dealt with more than 30 attack tunnels, a third of which penetrated our territory,” he continued. “As a result of those capabilities, the Hamas organization managed to kill 13 soldiers [via the tunnels].”

All in all, 68 soldiers were killed in Operation Protective Edge in addition to 6 other Israeli civilians.

By: Jonathan Benedek, World Israel News