In a tunnel deep underground the Gaza Strip, masked terrorists from Islamic Jihad are preparing for their next war with Israel.
Following the 50-day summer war with Israel, Islamic Jihad, Hamas and other Gaza-based terror groups are licking their wounds.
The Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, lost 123 terrorists in the fighting with Israel and fired some 3,300 rockets into the Jewish state. Gaza terrorists attempted to show their might by firing the Iranian made Fajr 5 missile, which has the ability to reach Tel Aviv and northern Israel.
Israeli intelligence are keeping a close eye on the activities of the Gaza terror groups. Days after the announcement of a ceasefire with Israel, Hamas and Islamic Jihad boasted that they were already preparing for the next round of conflict with Israel.
“We’re at our highest level of alert to counter any attack,” senior commander Abu al-Bara told AFP from one of the group’s terror tunnels. “We’re used to the occupation (Israel) breaking its ceasefires.”
“What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. We’re gathering all our strength since it’s a war that never ends. We’re ready to go to another level against the Zionist occupation and carry out actions we’ve never done before,” he said
While Islamic Jihad refuses to specify the number of fighters currently aligned with the terror group, conservative estimates put the number between 10,000 and 15,000,
Israel’s ground invasion into Gaza greatly reduced the number of fighters and rockets both Hamas and Islamic Jihad possess. However, the terror groups are quickly making up for what they lost.
AFP reporters were allowed access into an Islamic Jihad tunnel network for the first time. Blindfolded while being transported to its entrance, once inside the tunnels are akin to a mini city, filled with interconnecting concrete passages and even “streets” to help the terrorists navigate the vast network.
One of the “streets” was named after Abu Bakr al-Sadiq, the first Islamic caliph after the death of the Prophet Mohammed.
An Islamic Jihad terrorist said that the group’s tunnels were of “different lengths, some with several entrances.”
Gaza terror groups have successfully used the interconnected tunnel network to smuggle in illegal supplies, usually from Egypt, to build weaponry and carry out attacks against Israel. During Operation Protective Edge, the IDF said it had demolished majority of terror tunnels inside Gaza, but a few unknown ones remained active.
“Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad have openly declared that they are rebuilding tunnels and testing rockets and other things like that,” IDF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner told AFP.
“They’ve been siphoning off from the civilians of Gaza forever,” he said, confirming previous reports of the terror groups usual practice of utilizing humanitarian goods shipped into Gaza from Israel for terror purposes.
While Islamic Jihad terrorists are preparing for their underground war with Israel, above ground the group is training its young recruits to die in the battle of jihad.
In the southern Gazan city of Khan Yunis, the “School of the Mujahedin” is training some 200 new recruits by having them duck live fire, jump through flaming hoops, and practice chanting, “Death to Israel! Death to America!”
Abu Ahmed, the instructor at the terror training camp, says that the young men are going through “very advanced training.”
“Their training lasts between 36 days and six months, before they go to a specialized unit like explosives or sharp shooting,” he said.
Abu al-Bara emphasized that Islamic Jihad is not just investing in tunnels, “we also invest in people.”
He added, “With ideas and fighting, it is people who will liberate this land.”