Egypt has discovered new tunnels connecting Gaza to its territory in the Sinai Peninsula, some purported to be several kilometers long and large enough to accommodate the passage of trucks.It is estimated there are dozens of such tunnels.
Ynet reported claims by the Egyptian government of finding weapons in the Sinai that were manufactured in Gaza. They included Hamas made rockets and Improvised Explosive Devices (IED) made from hot-water tanks filled with explosives that are capable of destroying a tank. Hamas is allied with Islamic State (ISIS) affiliated groups that are fighting Egypt in the Sinai with deadly effect.
Egypt has flooded the border with Gaza in an effective effort to prevent tunnels leading into Sinai. In 2014, Egypt established a buffer zone in an attempt to prevent such tunnels. At the time there were estimated to be approximately 1,200 tunnels, most of which have been destroyed. Flooding the buffer zone has led to several collapses and the deaths of Palestinians working on the tunnels, 13 since the beginning of the year.
Israel has not instituted a program to combat tunnels that are suspected to already be in place. The tunnels were used with deadly effect in the 2014 war when Israel destroyed more than 30 at the time.
A tunnel collapse on Thursday trapped eight Hamas militants, seven of whom were rescued while one remains missing. Members of Hamas’s Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades are beginning to refuse orders to dig underground tunnels as a result of the many deadly collapses, seven in recent months.
Hamas reported the tunnel as commercial, intended for smuggling goods however media sources report it as a military tunnel to link up with ISIS affiliated groups in the Sinai peninsula. Hamas has been accused of aiding the groups with personnel and supplies.
Israel has not instituted a program to combat tunnels that are suspected to already be in place. The tunnels were used with deadly effect in the 2014 war and Israel destroyed more than 30 at the time.
Such an effort is an enormous drain on Gaza’s limited resources and Hamas has been accused of misappropriating humanitarian resources intended for the reconstruction of the civilian infrastructure.