Israeli Education Minister and Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett has applauded the IDF's success in locating and destroying a massive terrorist attack tunnel from Gaza into Israel, and warned of Hamas's continued motivation to launch a major attack.
Bennett, who is also a member of the Security Cabinet, said Hamas's top priority was to carry out a multi-pronged, mass-casualty infiltration attack from Gaza into southern Israeli communities.
The Jewish Home leader has been credited for pushing the government to initiate an IDF operation during 2014's Operation Protective Edge, defying strong opposition from other cabinet members – including Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon – who had insisted on restricting the operation to dismantling terrorist groups' rocket-firing capabilities.
Bennett has since clashed with Ya'alon and Prime Minister Netanyahu on security issues, criticizing them for not taking a hard enough stance. In his statement following the IDF's latest discovery, he appeared to repeat that criticism.
"In the two years since (Operation) Protective Edge, Hamas was not deterred from re-intensifying its efforts, as we warned," he said.
Despite the IDF destroying its entire attack tunnel capabilities – and foiling a massive planned attack against Israeli civilians – Bennett warned that Hamas had turned tunnel construction into a "national priority," and was investing massively in plans to launch an even greater attack.
"The time has come to internalize" the threat, he said.
"Hamas's objective is to surprise us with a multi-front infiltration attack, (including) killings and kidnappings," he said, describing it as a "terrorist Yom Kippur (War)-type scenario."
During the 1973 war, Israeli forces sustained serious casualties when Arab armies launched a surprise attack, capitalizing on the Israeli government's sense of complacency following its spectacular 1967 victory, before the IDF eventually recovered and pushed back to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Israel needs to prevent such a scenario recurring "at any price, and not to rely on Hamas being 'deterred'," he said.
The government is obligated to provide security to the residents of the south."