Tens of tunnel diggers working in Hamas’s service were killed by Hamas in the past weeks, this according to a report by the Israeli Walla news site. Hamas eliminated part of its work force out of fear that they would reveal their secrets to the Israeli security forces.
The report further sheds light on the extremely difficult terms under which the tunnel diggers were employed by Hamas, in many cases under coercion.
“They would take some 100 men in trucks, their eyes blindfolded so that they could not know the accurate location of the tunnel entries. Hamas were fearful that one of them was collaborating with Israel,” a Gazan source well acquainted with the tunnel industry was cited in the report.
The diggers worked in shifts of up to 24 hours long, working for eight to twelve hours underground with intermissions. They were paid the low wage of $150-$300 per month. Many of the diggers are veterans of the smuggling tunnels from the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip.
M, a collaborator with Israel who was extracted from Gaza tells of extremely high security standards upheld by the Hamas. A special security task force was established for this purpose. He tells that in many cases the workers were frisked for various forms of electronic recording and monitoring devices.
“Hamas knows that Israel is monitoring them and doesn’t want to take any risks. They go through their clothing to check for tracking devices. Hamas operatives in charge are masked. No one knows them by their real name,” M added.
This special security detail is also tasked with securing the tunnel entries and ensuring that unwanted guests are kept away. “Anyone suspected of providing Israel with information is killed,” the Gazan source stated. “They killed several of the diggers because there were rumors that some of them work for Israel or were in connection with Israeli civilians who they knew from their time as construction workers in Israel. They were very cruel.”
Estimates are that tens of the terror-tunnel excavators were executed by Hamas. A 2012 Journal of Palestine Studies article reports 160 Palestinian children were killed while working on Hamas’s tunnel system.
Some 300 terrorists were arrested by the IDF and Shabak during Operation ‘Protective Edge’, several of them involved in Hamas’s terror tunnel network.