Minister Galant to IDF Radio: Prepare for the next conflict, starting this summer


In an interview with IDF Radio on April 19, 2016, Construction Minister and Major General (Ret.) Yoav Galant addressed revelations that the IDF discovered and destroyed a terror tunnel running from Gaza into Israel at a depth of 30 meters, saying:

I’m glad that the IDF found that tunnel, and I trust the IDF and its commanders. There are probably more tunnels. We need to tell the truth: Hamas is getting stronger and improving capabilities. At the hour of truce, both sides are more or less doing the same thing—resting, rearming, and waiting for the next conflict. The results of ‘Protective Edge’ (the name of the 2014 military operation Israel launched against Hamas in Gaza in response to ceaseless rocket attacks against Israel) are well known, and in terms of ‘destruction’, there is a mistake in the public’s understanding: overall in some places tunnels were seriously hit, and in some places they were merely disrupted. I think there’s a great effort here but we have to tell the truth: Hamas is getting stronger and expanding its capabilities and we need to adjust ourselves to the changing reality. The first meaning of this is we need to prepare for the next conflict, starting this summer. I don’t know anything specific, but I’m just saying that someone’s who digging tunnels is planning on using them.

Since Israel’s 2014 conflict with Gaza when Israel first discovered the existence of Hamas’ network of terror tunnels extending into Israel’s territory, the IDF’s Gaza division has made detecting and destroying those tunnels its No. 1 priority.

The system the IDF must employ to find the terror tunnels from Gaza at depths of up to 40 meters is complicated and requires the use of multiple technologies, resources and innovations.
Gallant continued by saying:

We haven’t always been able to predict how the other side is thinking when you’re talking about a group of terrorists and bullies. We need to keep the highest level of preparedness in front of our eyes in the understanding that the other side does not accept our existence as a Jewish state and does not recognize our achievements.

Reports have emerged that Hamas is investing large sums of money to continue constructing the tunnels and tunnel miners are some of the highest paid workers in Gaza because of the danger of the work. In early February 3 tunnels collapsed, then again in April Palestinian media reported another tunnel collapse, in which 5 were apparently killed. According to unofficial reports that would bring the total of tunnel miners and Hamas operatives killed in the tunnels since January of this year to 20.

Addressing the dire economic situation in Gaza, Galant said:

A new reality has emerged since the Egyptians have closed their side of the border with Gaza, and what’s going on with the people of Gaza is another reality—it’s difficult to get products into the Strip…and we need to provide an exit channel to Gaza.

Galant was referring to plans to erect an artificial island with a port off the shores of Gaza in an effort to help rebuild the Strip’s suffering economy. Minister Galant is one of a handful of past and current military officials backing the island plan in order to ease the humanitarian situation in Gaza. In a Bloomberg article that appeared last month, Minster Galant is quoted saying, “The biggest danger to Israel is a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. If Gaza has the ability to bring ships and goods without posing a security problem, that is in everyone’s interest.”

The purpose of building the artificial island is a security caution, Galant explained. An onshore port would be impossible to supervise and could jeopardize Israel’s security, but an artificial island would allow Israel full control of goods coming in. Some have speculated that in return for giving the Palestinians control over the port, Hamas would agree to a truce with Israel.