By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.—Psalms 137:1
Heads of the IDF Southern and Northern Commands reached the headlines on August 11, 2014. The first acknowledged erred judgment of the situation in Gaza, the second hinted at tunnel warfare between Israel and Lebanon.
By the Tunnels of Gaza
Yesterday, Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman, Head of the Southern Command visited Jewish settlements surrounding Gaza.
Instead of being carried on the shoulders of happy settlers, he met the anger of those who found out that they have been tricked by illegitimate authorities.
Less reported but no less violent was a visit of Public Security Minister Aharonovitch, at the same time Kibbutz Kfar Aza (Kibbutz Village of Gaza).
The general fury at the authorities was the result of a call to denizens of Gaza Envelope (Otef Aza) to return to their homes after the end of the ground stage of Operation Strong Cliff. “It is safe to return home,” official announcements claimed. They returned to their homes only to find that the bombings continue.
In recent years, the IDF had lowered its forces in the Gaza Envelope area, thus denizens have little trust on the motivations of the government (see IDF Abandons Greater Gaza).
“Why did they have to tell us to return home? I can’t describe the suffering it has caused us, Why did they have to announce a return to routine so quickly?” a resident of Kfar Aza told Aharonovitch.
Turgeman admitted that the IDF made the wrong decision: “I know we have made mistakes in some of our announcements.”
“Israel’s negotiations with the Palestinians in Cairo will lead to a cessation of the hostilities, but there is still a chance that the IDF’s Operation Strong Cliff* will be expanded,” he also said.
“Hamas is in control of the agenda, not Israel. This situation does not allow routine life to continue,” another resident added.
By the Wadis of Lebanon
Today, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, Head of the Northern Command, had an urgent meeting with heads of local government along the Lebanese border, following a scare spreading rapidly in the area.
A sign of the seriousness of the situation is that Golan did not arrive alone. He brought Brig. Gen Dedi Simchi, Ramat (Rosh Mate, Head of the Headquarters) of the Home Front Command. This is a military position rarely exposed to the public.
The latter tried to calm down the civilian officials who had requested the meeting due to unrest of denizens in the area.
In recent weeks, people had approached the Ministry of Defense, complaining and warning of attack-tunnels under the Galilee, constructed by Hezbollah from Lebanon.
Most complaints were of noises and vibrations from underground. One of the reports quoted in the urgent meeting claimed “A denizen from one of the settlements claims that in the last six months she hears noises from below the ground ‘like a mobile phone on vibrating-mode… it goes on for fifteen minutes and then it stops.'”
The representative of the Home Front Command (the name translates literally as “Nape Command” because it points backwards), explained what the IDF had done to attack-tunnels in Gaza, what had been learned, and how this will be implemented in the border with Lebanon.
Maj. Gen. Golan claimed that no signs of attack-tunnels have been found along the border. “Until today, and under the existing technological limitations, neither tunnels nor ventilation shafts have been found.”
The civilian participants of the meeting decided to issue a request from the Ministry of Defense, to cancel all military budget cuts, announced early this year.
The meeting may have been requested from the army, in an attempt to regain the lost budget.
Despite IDF declarations at the beginning of the ground attack on Gaza, Israel did not know about all attack-tunnels. It also failed to understand that the tunnels are not independent constructions, but interconnected ones, forming an underground city. The IDF failed to detect tunnels under Israel, which enabled the conquest of the Nahal Oz Watchtower by Hamas (see IDF Confirms Nahal Oz Video, Deif Shocks Israel).
Moreover, after the end of the IDF ground attack, Hamas announced that it has attack-tunnels under Israel that were left closed. The last few meters can be opened almost immediately. There is no reason to doubt their declaration.
This may be the case also along the Lebanese border. However, Lebanon is not Gaza. The border is much longer and is not plain. The Galilee in this area features more wadis than stars in the summer sky.
“Wadi” denotes deep and narrow creeks characteristic of the Holy Land. In Hebrew, they are called “nahal,” or “vadi,” distorting the Arabic of the first word. These provide endless opportunities to dig tunnels safely.
The Jewish settlement in the area is very different from the one in Gaza Envelope.
In 1977, the Likud party reached power. For the first time in Zionist history, its right wing achieved supremacy. Until then, the Jewish settlements in the Holy Land have been established mainly by leftist organizations.
Envious, Menachem Begin announced the Galilee Viewpoints (mitzpim) Plan. 40 Tiny settlements were created almost overnight in what was openly intended to be a Settlements’ Blitzkrieg, an attempt to create dismay among the Palestinian denizens of the area.
Most of them included just above ten families. Infrastructures were hurriedly planned and lousily constructed. This caused a very slow growing rate, yet, they survived. The family of Gilad Shalit, who was captive in Gaza for several years, lives in Mitzpe Hila.
They survived but failed to change the demography. Since they were established, the Galilee lost its Jewish majority, to the extent that Netanyahu announced a Druze settlement near Yehiam. A map in Hebrew showing the viewpoints in red is below.
The Galilee Viewpoints Plan
Viewpoints are handy stops along possible tunnels. Since the IDF has implied intentions of warring them as in Gaza, the Shalit family and other residents of the area should seriously consider to open coffee shops and refreshment stops. Digging is such a tiring job!
By the wadis of Lebanon, Zionists may soon sing Bonnie M’s hit “By the rivers of Babylon, Where he sat down, And there he wept when he remembered Zion.”
Mr. Roi Tov is one of the frequent contributors for The 4th Media.