Israel was aware of Gaza's giant tunnel, but ignored it in pursuit of calm

Security officials say repeated conflicts ended with cease-fire at Hamas's request leaving threat from tunnel unattended to as leadership sought long-term agreement with terror group

Yuval Karni, Yoav Zitun|
The existence of the largest terror tunnel uncovered in the Gaza Strip, near the Erez Crossing, was known to high-ranking officials in Israel for four years before the information was cleared for publication earlier this week. However, the decision by the security cabinet not to launch an attack to neutralize the extensive tunnel network in the Gaza Strip, including the giant tunnel constructed by Hamas over several years, raises questions.
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Prominent political figures who were involved in security talks in recent years testified that there were extensive deliberations on the expansion of Hamas's tunnel infrastructure. However, the decision of the highest government officials was not to thwart their construction.
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IDF troops inside the exposed tunnel
(Photo: Ariel Schalit)
A former member of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, who participated in internal discussions on the matter, stated, "There were lengthy and numerous discussions on Hamas's terror tunnels in the committee and its subcommittees. However, the understanding was that the government did not want to deal with it."
According to him, questions arose repeatedly about why the terror tunnels were not destroyed, why attacks were not carried out, and why there were recurring cease-fire agreements after rounds of conflict, when Hamas called for them. The government leaders said, "quiet would be met with quiet," or spoke of attempts to reach a long-term Hudna (cease-fire agreements) with Hamas. The constant refrain from steps was a desire for calm, with no one addressing the fundamental question: If Hamas continually strengthens its capabilities , and builds terror tunnels, why exactly does it persist in doing so? This was part of the overall concept."
A former committee member revealed that there were discussions and information presented regarding the large terror tunnels constructed by Hamas, but he could not confirm if it was the same giant tunnel exposed this week. However, a political source who recently questioned security officials confirmed to Ynet that specific information about the giant tunnel in northern Gaza was indeed in Israel's hands for the past four years.
The IDF said that the tunnel's general location has been known for years but not its precise trajectory, hence the recent attacks did not impact it. The IDF further asserted that there are dozens of such tunnels along the border, yet to be discovered.
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