Hamas has accelerated its tunnel-building efforts from Gaza into Israel, reported The Times of Israel Thursday. Citing unnamed sources, the paper said heavy machinery was in use.
The destruction of terror tunnels dug by Hamas under the Gaza-Israel border was one of the main goals of last summer’s Operation Protective Edge. The tunnels were used to perpetrate several attacks, including a failed ambush on Kibbutz Sufa.
The Israel Defense Force claimed it had gained control over all the tunnels during the summer, something Hamas later denied. Regardless, the tunnel infrastructure expansion has been ongoing, despite strict guidelines on permitted uses of humanitarian construction aid being sent.
Now, Hamas is accelerating its tunnel offensive, using specialized digging equipment to speed up the effort. According to the paper’s sources in Gaza, small bulldozers with the ability to maneuver in tight spaces are being used, as well as larger tractors, visible from the Israeli side of the border.
Security officials verified the Hamas claims for the paper, adding that the terror organization was making significant efforts to dig at great speed.
Meanwhile, infighting between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority continues to delay the reconstruction efforts in Gaza. The PA has demanded that Hamas relinquish all governmental responsibilities to them, and Hamas has refused.
A Swiss mediation team, brought in to resolve a dispute over the payment of Hamas officials, had been making some headway, but their efforts were set back when explosives were placed near the homes of Fatah activists in the Gaza Strip.