Sections of an internal IDF report have been leaked indicating that the army’s preparation and handling of the threat from Hamas’s tunnels during the 2014 Gaza conflict was flawed.
Army Radio published parts of Maj. Gen. Yossi Bachar’s report, which reportedly said that “on the eve of the operation, the assault tunnels were an unknown factor for most of the commanders of the forces involved” on the ground.
It added that IDF preparedness to combat the tunnel threat was “flawed, and caused confusion in real time” forcing IDF troops to improvise as they tackled the tunnels.
Bachar’s report says that one of the consequences of the IDF’s lack of preparation was that “the enemy’s command-and-control networks and its missile system operated continuously until the last day,” of the conflict in 2014 as both were located largely underground.
The leaked IDF report comes just weeks before the State Comptroller is expected to release his own report on the strategic-intelligence preparations to combat Hamas’s tunnels. The State Comptroller’s report is expected to focus largely on the actions of Israel’s political leadership at the time. Some leading politicians, including Jewish Home head and Education Minister Naftali Bennett have claimed that the security cabinet did not adequately discuss the tunnel threat. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has strongly rejected the allegation.
Writing in Maariv, Yossi Melman says that Bachar’s report appears to concentrate on the then IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and not Prime Minister Netanyahu and then Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon.
Following Operation Protective Edge in summer 2014, Gantz appointed Bachar to head a committee to investigate the handling of the tunnel threat, which was a major feature of the conflict.
More than 30 tunnels, some extending beyond the Gaza border, were uncovered and destroyed by Israeli forces during Operation Protective Edge. Hamas has since set about rebuilding the subterranean network, while Israel recently began constructing an underground barrier to combat the threat.