Yoav Galant, former Head of IDF Southern Command, had harsh criticism for the government's policy regarding the Hamas terror tunnels, in a Saturday interview. He said that the tunnels were no secret and that when he was general – from 2005 to 2010 – the IDF destroyed 92 tunnels, including during the 2008-9 Operation Cast Lead.
“Before Cast Lead and after Cast Lead, we reached every one of these tunnels,” he said. “Ninety-two tunnels were destroyed when I was Head of Southern Command, and I did not leave a single tunnel when I finished.”
"This entire process began three years later, and unfortunately, these were the consequences,” he claimed. “If you ask me, is it proper, that the state of Israel knows that tunnels are leading from Gaza to places near schools and kindergartens – not one or two, but 32 of them – and you can't say we did not know how they looked… the Chief of Staff and the Defense Minister and others had their photos taken inside them… I cannot accept this.”
He also said that even if one decided to leave the tunnels intact, there should at least have been plans for dealing with attacks from the tunnels, if and when they materialized – and again blamed the government for not issuing the proper directives to the IDF.
It was during Galant's term at Southern Command that terrorists scored one of their greatest successes ever against the IDF – the abduction of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, in 2006. They surprised an IDF force by using a tunnel to cross into Israel, killed two soldiers and kidnapped Shalit. He was returned in 2011 in exchange for over 1,000 terrorists.
Galant said that a territorially contiguous Palestinian state must be established, and that this is an Israeli need, no less than a Palestinian one. He derided Naftali Bennett's plan for Judea and Samaria, which he said would create a single state that includes the Palestinian Arabs.
After the summer's war with Hamas, the IDF confirmed rumors that Hamas had been planning a massive attack on Israeli communities by hundreds of terrorists who would infiltrate into Israel via the vast network of "terror-tunnels" dug from Gaza into Israeli territory.
In a Vanity Fair report, IDF spokesperson Lt. Colonel Peter Lerner revealed that in destroying the tunnel Israel may have prevented a coordinated massacre of its civilians on an unprecedented scale.
"Hamas had a plan," he said. "A simultaneous, coordinated, surprise attack within Israel. They planned to send 200 terrorists armed to the teeth toward civilian populations. This was going to be a coordinated attack."