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Deputy Defense Minister Boim: 'IDF On Verge Of Solution For Detecting Tunnels In Gaza Strip' 'Foreign Monitors Of Palestinian Election Will Be Given VIP Treatment'

Tunnel Terrorists

IsraCast reported the IDF would have to ‘pull out all the stops and find a high-tech solution for detecting underground tunnels, after the Dec.12th explosion killed five Israeli soldiers and wounded six others in the Gaza Strip.In an exclusive interview with David Essing, Deputy Defense Minister Zeev Boim reveals that the IDF is on the brink of developing an effective counter-measure.Boim also says although the IDF will react to the current upsurge in Palestinian terrorism, the Palestinian election is also a factor. For her part, Israel is doing everything necessary to help ensure a free and fair ballot on January 9th. The IDF is going all out to find a counter-measure for detecting explosives tunnels, like the one that blew up the JVT position in the Gaza Strip. Deputy Defense Minister Zeev Boim analyzes the new situation.

The ramifications are first to intensify our efforts to find solutions to the Palestinian tunnels. There are two types: the tunnels used to smuggle in weapons under the Philadelfi Corridor and the explosives tunnels they use to blow up Israeli military and civilian targets in the Gaza Strip. There are also operational conclusions. Without going into details, we know from our intelligence, there is a need to thin out personnel in positions and that these fewer soldiers must be stationed in positions that are structurally reinforced to withstand such attacks.

Question: But does the fact that Israeli communities will be at risk, on the Israeli side of the border after the withdrawal, make it even more crucial to find an urgent solution to the tunnel threat?

Deputy D.M.Zeev Boim

BOIM: Let me make clear that Israel will not leave the Philadelfi Corridor (the Israeli security zone which separates Gaza From Egypt) until an effective and responsible force is ready to take control. I very much hope the Egyptians will agree to play such a role. But, yes there is no doubt that an appropriate technical solution to the tunnels is an urgent need. In recent years, we have sought such a solution and we are examining numerous possibilities. There are many suggestions about how to cope with the tunnels. Many have come from both institutions and private individuals. We examine every proposal and some have even been tested in the field. I think we are on the verge of finding such a technical solution. At least for detecting tunnels in the Philadelfi area, which cross the international border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, and this will prevent the Palestinians from smuggling in weapons.

Question: Are we now in a ‘twilight zone’ before the Palestinian elections on January 9th because Israel does not want to jeopardize the prospects of Muhmoud Abbas? In other times, the IDF would have hit back more severely than it has after the Rafah position was demolished.

BOIM: It’s impossible to ignore the changes taking place since Arafat’s death. This is indeed a sensitive period in the run- up to the Palestinian election. Israel must and is doing two things: first, to do as much as possible to guarantee that the Palestinian election is free and fair without any interference or delays. We will enable freedom of movement for the Palestinian population at the time of the election and Israel will give the foreign monitors the VIP treatment. Again, we’ll do all we can to facilitate the Palestinian election. However, if anyone thinks we will not act when necessary to protect our people from the terrorists, he is mistaken.

Question: In a previous interview with IsraCast, you spoke of Israel seeking a regional solution, to help resolve the Israeli- Palestinian conflict. Is for example, this week’s trade deal with Egypt and the U.S., a part of this approach?

BOIM: Yes, there is no doubt that a new atmosphere is developing being Israel and the Egyptians. There are various signs of this; the release of Azam Azam was both symbolic and very important, both on the personal and the national level. There are also the talks we are conducting with the Egyptians on their filling a future role on helping to impose law and order in the Gaza Strip. The new trade deal with Egypt is another building block in the process of improving relations, something that has been non-existent for a very long time.Summing up, I would say the cold peace treaty is warming up and we hope to continue in this direction with the Egyptians.

Deputy Defense Minister Zeev Boim

David Essing

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