Using advanced detection technology, the IDF has discovered a Hamas terror tunnel which reaches under Gaza’s border into Israel. The discovery neutralizes the possible threat of infiltration, attacks and kidnappings by Hamas militants.
Estimated to have been completed during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge, the tunnel’s shaft was discovered a few dozen meters from Israel’s border with Gaza, in the southern Eshkol regional council. The passage was found last week, but the discovery was only cleared for publication on Monday morning.
“An offensive terror tunnel reaching inside Israel from the southern Gaza Strip was uncovered several days ago by IDF forces, after strenuous intelligence and operational efforts,” said a statement by the IDF spokesperson unit.
The tunnel, 2000 meters long and unusually deep at 30 meters, was found between the Israeli communities of Kerem Shalom and Holit, about a kilometer and a half away from the nearest homes.
According to the IDF, it was found as a result of a “systematic, intelligence-based, technological, engineering, and operational” approach, the Jerusalem Post reported. A security source said that he hoped the discovery would lead to the development of a method which would help find more tunnels.
“The challenge is very big. The tunnels are very deep,” explained the source, but he added, “We have capabilities that do not exist anywhere else in the world. We can detect, at depths of 30 to 40 meters.”
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that the discovery was “an important operational achievement” which resulted from “extremely widespread efforts on the issue in recent years.”
“We have discovered many tunnels over the years, mostly away from the public eye,” Ya’alon revealed. “This is a top priority for the IDF and the security agencies. Dealing with the tunnels is very complicated, requiring determination and responsibility from those involved, and Israel is a world leader on this issue.”
The defense minister said that he does not expect Hamas to stop its digging operation but warned the group against attacking Israel, stating, “We do not seek confrontation, but Hamas will suffer great losses if it attempts to challenge Israel and disrupt the daily life of its citizens.”
Specific detection techniques remain classified. Since the tunnel’s discovery, a massive destruction operation, involving engineering forces and IDF troops, has been underway.
Hamas has never used the tunnel, said the IDF, suggesting that it was dug after the last war in anticipation of a future attack against Israel.
The terror tunnels drew new attention a few months ago when residents of southern Israel began reporting hearing the sounds and feeling the vibrations of tunnels being dug literally beneath their homes. IDF officials said that no active tunnels had been found.
Residents in the communities nearest Gaza had mixed feelings about the discovery. “On the one hand, it shows there is a good reason for the high alert,” said Alon Schuster, head of the Sha’ar HaNegev Regional Council near the Gaza border, TPS reported.
“On the other hand, we congratulate the security forces for their improved abilities to locate tunnels and to strengthen the protection of the communities near the border.”
Tunnel digging is one of Hamas’s biggest priorities in Gaza, with the terror organization spending millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to build the complex system of underground passages reaching into Israel. The tunnels are used for smuggling weapons, infiltrating Israel, attacking residents, and kidnapping attempts.
Hamas employs about 800 tunnel diggers. The job is well-paid but risky; at least a dozen diggers have been killed in a series of tunnel collapses over the past few months. The causes of the collapses have been attributed to everything from the weather to mysterious IDF involvement to prayer.
However it was achieved, the discovery of the tunnel – and the destruction of tunnels in progress – is surely the fulfillment of Psalm 33, in which God is praised for disrupting the plots of those who scheme against the people of Israel.