‘Drive to kidnap IDF soldiers up since Schalit deal’
Warning Hamas it will be hit hard in a future conflict, a senior IDF commander said on Wednesday that motivation to kidnap Israeli soldiers has significantly increased since the prisoner swap for Gilad Schalit.
According to Col. Tal Hermoni, commander of the Gaza Division’s Southern Brigade, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip are working to abduct Israeli soldiers and are digging tunnels that could be used in such an attack.
‘We believe that since there are additional Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails that these groups are working to kidnap soldiers,’ Hermoni said during a briefing to reporters along the border with Egypt.
There were people working in Gaza ‘on a daily basis’ in the tunnel industry, and Israel was investing significant resources to gather intelligence and locate those tunnels to limit the element of surprise if they were to be used in a future attack, he said. The terrorists who kidnapped tank gunner Schalit in June 2006 infiltrated Israel via a 500-meter-long tunnel they had dug under the Gaza border near the Kerem Shalom crossing.
Hermoni said the abduction of a soldier would have ‘strategic significance’ for Israel, and the IDF was working on several levels to prevent such an attack and to thwart one if it were launched.