There are currently at least 15 Hamas attack tunnels crossing the border into Israel, sources inside and outside of the cabinet told Channel 2's Amit Segal on Sunday, ahead of the release of the State Comptroller report dealing with that threat.
Two new sections of the State Comptroller's Operation Protective Edge report will be published on Tuesday at 4pm, focusing on the tunnel threat from Gaza and the cabinet's decision-making process before the war and during its early stages.
The report will reveal what happened in the months and years that preceded the campaign in the Gaza Strip and is believed to include criticism of former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the way the security cabinet functioned during that time. Former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz is also expected to be harshly criticized in the report.
"I don't accept what's been written (in the report)," Gantz, who was the IDF chief during the war, said over the weekend. "You can't operate systems and win wars without intelligence," he stressed, adding: "During Protective Edge we had quality intelligence—it was excellent, accessible, not always perfect. I'm willing to go on the next campaign with the kind of intelligence we had for the last campaign."
Leaks to the media during the operation revealed that the cabinet was presented with an assessment that conquering the Gaza Strip would incur heavy casualties on the IDF and cause serious damage to Israel's international standing.
"We could have conquered Gaza," the former IDF chief asserted. "At no point in time were we asked to do this, nor did we recommend it. The result was that (a decision was made) to seriously hurt Hamas, disrupt its tunnel operations, create deterrence, and Hamas remained on the ground. Forget what is being said."
"The truth is," Gantz added, "that no one had an interest to go back to even one percent of Gaza."
Meanwhile, the defense minister during the operation, Moshe Ya'alon, posted a video on Facebook, writing alongside it: "There are those who leak, and those who fight."
"In the coming week, you'll hear a lot about Protective Edge," Ya'alon said. "Those who dealt with politics in the cabinet during the war, in an unprecedented manner, will continue to do so this week as well. They will tell you they didn't know, that they weren't told, that they didn't receive reports. And the greatest lie of all? They'll tell you we weren't prepared and that we lost. This is nonsense."
Ya'alon hinted at criticism he suffered at the hands of Education Minister Naftali Bennett, who a month ago said that "the Protective Edge report will be an earthquake for security, but will also bring with it an opportunity."
According to Bennett, "the State Comptroller report clearly shows that the root of the failure was in the rigid thinking of the leaders of the country. We need a new security mindset. No more rigidity and treading in place, but victory. Clear and decisive victory. A victory that requires no explanations or excuses. A victory that does not require public relations, but one that speaks for itself, without need of words. No more 50-day wars that end in a tie. We must switch from rigid thinking to innovative initiative."
Minister Yoav Galant, the former GOC Southern Command, also laid the blame on the defense officials, noting on Twitter: "The soldiers acted bravely during Protective Edge. Gantz and Ya'alon failed. Negligence and being wholly unprepared. Hesitancy to use power. Now they're hiding behind the cabinet's skirts."
The minutes of cabinet meetings during the war that were published a month ago show that then-IDF chief Gantz shared Netanyahu and Ya'alon's belief that Hamas must be contained rather than defeated.
"Hamas doesn't want to act," Gantz is quoted as saying in one of the meetings.
In another meeting, at a later stage of the operation, Gantz continues along the same line. "I oppose a ground offensive. We've had great achievements so far: Hamas is beaten, the tunnels are a reasonable risk to take."
In response to Gantz, Bennett said during that meeting "I expect you to arrive to cabinet meetings with operational plans and offensive policy. I'm not the one who's supposed to present plans to destroy the tunnels. Be wild horses, not lazy bulls."