Hamas is digging more than six miles of tunnels each month toward Israel, which has no guaranteed techniques for detecting them, Israeli officials said Wednesday.
Amid an ongoing argument among politicians and bereaved Israeli families over whether the Netanyahu government dealt with the Hamas tunnel threat appropriately and effectively before and during the 2014 war in Gaza, the unnamed Israeli defense and diplomatic officials were quoted by Channel 2 news as saying that Israel knows that Hamas is constantly extending its underground network.
“We have no perfect solution” to the threat, the officials were quoted as saying, “and neither does any other country.”
Israel located and destroyed two Hamas attack tunnels in April and May. Both were discovered in the southern Gaza Strip and ran into Israeli territory.
The tunnels were the first discovered inside Israeli territory since the end of the war in the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2014. During that operation, dubbed in Israel Operation Protective Edge, at least 34 tunnels were discovered and destroyed by Israeli forces, many of them leading into Israeli territory.
A number of tunnels were used by Hamas fighters to infiltrate Israel and carry out deadly attacks on troops during the 2014 conflict.
Following the 50-day conflict with Hamas in the Strip, Israel invested an estimated NIS 1 billion (approximately $250 million) in developing a detection system to locate such tunnels.
The anonymous statements given to Channel 2 emerged as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took flak from rival politicians for the handling of the conflict ahead of its second anniversary.
Netanyahu has claimed he was well-apprised of the threat posed by Hamas tunnels ahead of the war, dismissing claims that he was caught off guard.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett had accused Netanyahu Tuesday morning of refusing to learn from mistakes in the lead-up to the war.
“Every platoon leader draws conclusions at the end of an exercise in order to prevent future mistakes and to improve,” Bennett, who heads the right-wing Jewish Home party, wrote on Twitter. “What is true for an infantry division is doubly true for the diplomatic-security leadership of the State of Israel.”
An unnamed Likud official later said Bennett’s accusations were a “total lie.”
“Bennett’s comments sound nice. It’s a shame it’s a total lie,” the Likud official said.