IDF Southern Command Chief Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman has been outspoken in the last few weeks in his attempts to convince army command that there is a pressing need to destroy the new network of terror tunnels that Hamas is tirelessly rebuilding throughout Gaza, Channel 10 reported.
On Sunday, a teenage Hamas operative was killed while digging a terror tunnel when the tunnel collapsed in on him. Footage broadcasted by Channel 10 news in Israel has also shown that Hamas is rearming and has begun live-fire practice drills that simulate an IDF incursion into the Strip.
Turgeman is seeking permission from the IDF to preemptively strike out at Hamas and destroy each of the 30 new terror tunnels that are being dug under Israel’s border, even if that means a new incursion into the Strip to locate and destroy each one.
Other voices in IDF command suggest that such an operation would be too risky and would lead to too soon of a new conflict.
A source in the IDF has stated that in spite of the difficulty that Hamas has had in importing missiles into the Gaza Strip, they are building tens of rockets per day and are constantly test launching these missiles to gauge their range.
The bigger threat, according to Turgeman, is the tunnels. According to the report, Over 1,000 workers head underground each day inside the Strip to rebuild the tunnel network for Hamas, a security source confirmed.
Residents who live in Gaza-belt communities have reported hearing construction and digging noises from underground. Ilana Amar, a resident of Netiv Ha’asarah, told Channel 10, “We have been hearing for a long time that Hamas has been trying to rebuild. Today we hear them digging.”
MK Chaim Yellin (Yesh Atid), formerly the head of the Eshkol Regional Council, which sits in the periphery of the Gaza Strip, said, “The minute (Operation) Protective Edge didn’t end with disarmament in return for rehabilitation, there’s no doubt that 50 percent of the population of the Gaza Strip is dealing with rearming and tunnels.”
Israelis residing near the Gaza Strip are preparing for the worst possible outcome.
Israel, for its part, is still allowing construction materials into the Strip, with 14,000 tons of building supplies passing through into Hamas-controlled area just last Wednesday in what is the largest single shipment of supplies since Operation Protective Edge. Israel is allowing this in spite of having clear knowledge that Hamas is siphoning off materials from these shipments to use in the terror tunnels.
Hamas has, over the past few months, recognized that Egypt will not help them in their fight against Israel, and now look upon Egypt as an enemy state. The head of Hamas’ military wing, Mohammed Deif, who survived an assassination attempt by the IAF last summer, is working on strengthening ties with Iran in the hopes of maintaining ties with a strong Arab state sponsor.