The ground phase of Operation Protective Edge raises many questions that will require answers once the campaign is over. Was Israel aware of the extent and scope of the Hamas terrorist tunnel project? Was the Israeli military establishment aware of it, and if so, did it provide Israel’s decision-makers with a comprehensive — or even a near comprehensive — account of the dozens of high-quality tunnels being excavated between the Gaza Strip and Israel, which would be put into use once the order arrived? Did the Israeli political echelon know about these tunnels? Were they silent about them? Were they showing restraint? And if so, why?
On the eve of its incursion into the Gaza Strip, Israel agreed to an Egyptian outline for a cease-fire to restore calm. It was only after 13 militants from the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades penetrated Israel in an attempt to launch a terrorist attack in Kerem Shalom that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) got the green light to begin a ground assault. And it was only then that soldiers discovered there was an underground Gaza just like there was an aboveground Gaza, and that the Hamas movement had invested an enormous amount of resources into constructing that underground Gaza.