‘Huge row’ as Shin Bet says it warned IDF months ahead of summer war
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‘Huge row’ as Shin Bet says it warned IDF months ahead of summer war

Army denies it got advance word; security agency tells TV documentary it knew in January that Hamas was gearing up for July assault on southern communities

Israeli soldiers at a deployment area near the border with the Gaza Strip, on July 28, 2014, (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli soldiers at a deployment area near the border with the Gaza Strip, on July 28, 2014, (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

There is an “unprecedented rift” between the Shin Bet, Israel’s Security Agency, and the IDF, a TV documentary claims, because the Shin Bet said it warned the military in January that Hamas was gearing up for war, six months before it broke out in July, and the IDF insists it got no such warning.

Two days after the war ended, there was a cabinet meeting at which the Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen told ministers that his security service gave advance warning of the Hamas war plan, and the then head of military intelligence, Aviv Kochavi, retorted: “You didn’t say a word about [the danger of] a war [breaking out] in July,” according to the Channel 2 TV documentary Uvda (“Fact”), portions of which were broadcast Sunday night.

The program filmed a Shin Bet operative named Shiran who said that “from January 2014” information began to accumulate from which it was clear to the Shin Bet that Hamas was “preparing for war.”

The Shin Bet concluded that Hamas was aiming to “initiate a war” before Israel would be able to prepare with troops on the border. The goal would be to “invade Israeli communities — a war of ‘liberation'” — presumably through its cross-border tunnels as a first step. Hamas’s planned “second stage” would be to kidnap soldiers.

Palestinian men looks at what used to be a tunnel leading from the Gaza Strip into Israel, in the area of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 5, 2014, after a 72-hour truce agreed by Israel and the ruling Hamas movement went into effect. (Photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Palestinian men looks at what used to be a tunnel leading from the Gaza Strip into Israel, in the area of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on August 5, 2014, after a 72-hour truce agreed by Israel and the ruling Hamas movement went into effect. (Photo credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The Shin Bet had specific information that Hamas sought to complete its preparations by the end of June, so that it would be ready for the conflict in early July — precisely as proved to be the case.

The TV report filmed another Shin Bet operative saying he was “certain” that Shin Bet chief Cohen “passed the information to those to whom it had to be passed.”

However, IDF Spokesman Moti Almoz told the program no such advance warning was ever given. The word “war” was never uttered, he said, “not in January, not in February… It didn’t happen.”

The full TV documentary will be broadcast on Monday.

The 50-day Israel-Hamas war saw the IDF expose and demolish dozens of tunnels Hamas had dug under the border, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that the Islamist terror group planned to use the tunnels to catastrophic effect against Israeli troops and civilians.

Eleven soldiers were killed in attacks by Hamas gunmen emerging from the tunnels during the summer conflict.

Hamas and other Gaza-based terror groups launched over 4,500 rockets and mortars at Israeli cities throughout Operation Protective Edge, which claimed the lives of over 2,000 Palestinians, at least half of them said by Israel to be combatants, 72 Israelis, the majority of them soldiers, and one Thai national working in Israel.

The war ended in late August in an Egyptian-brokered interim truce agreement, after which the sides were set to resume indirect negotiations in Cairo over a more long-term deal and tackle thorny issues such as the return of the remains of two IDF soldiers, the easing of the blockade on Gaza and the rehabilitation of the Palestinian enclave, an endeavor which has already commenced.

The fate of the talks remains unclear as Egypt last month refused to receive the Islamist group’s delegation to the negotiations, following a deadly terror attack in the Sinai which killed over 30 Egyptian troops, and in which Hamas was accused of being involved.

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