Published On: Mon, Apr 18th, 2016

Hamas attack tunnel discovered in Israel

Less than 2 years after Operation Protective Edge, the IDF, using advanced technology, discovered the tunnel in the Eshkol regional council area; it was meant for an attack by Hamas's elite 'nokhba' unit.

IDF forces destroying Hamas tunnel (Photo IDF spokesperson)

Nearly two years since the end of Operation Protective Edge, IDF forces, with the aid of advanced technology, managed to locate a Hamas attack tunnel crossing the border fence into Israel and dug by most estimates after the last round of fighting, it was cleared for publication Monday morning.

The shaft was discovered in Israeli territory, a few dozen meters from the fence bordering the central Gaza Strip, in the Eshkol regional council, but not very close to nearby communities. According to the security establishment’s estimates, the tunnel is designated for a strategic attack by dozens of Hamas fighters of their elite unit – “Nukhba”.

The tunnel was uncovered last week, and since then, in the open area between Kisufim and Kerem, an extensive operation involving engineering forces and fighters from elite IDF units to destroy it has been underway.

The tunneling took place on both sides of the border, and the Palestinians in Gaza reported on it, but Hamas refrained from using the tunnel or taking other offensive steps against the IDF. And this despite the fact that according to Israeli officials’ estimations according to which Hamas was aware that the IDF uncovered and destroyed the tunnel.

At the start of IDF operations, Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and GOC Southern Command Eyal Zamir were present. Residents in the area were told that the matter was under IDF control and that there was no real danger, therefore life went on as usual. Even farmers in the area were updated and were given no special instructions.

 

IDF forces destroying Hamas tunnel (Photo IDF spokesperson) (2)

 

A senior security source said last week around the time of the tunnel’s discovery, “We are not surprised by Hamas’s efforts as that is an opportunity for them to carry out a strategic attack. Hamas is not rushing to battle. We have identified other tunnel dug by Hamas, but they have not penetrated our territory.”

Hamas’s excavation of this tunnel appears to be have been done relatively fast compared to those dug in the years prior to Operation

Protective Edge, pointing to their having learned lessons and invested an unprecedented amount of money – in the millions of shekels – in the project. Even the depth of the tunnel, about 30 meters, is considered unusual. Nevertheless, in other respects, it is the same type of tunnel discovered before and during Operation Protective Edge – reinforced walls, digging pathways, branches and inner depth. According to a senior Southern Command official, Hamas employs 800 tunnel diggers who enjoy high salaries compared to other activists in the organization, and the organization’s Chief of Staff Mohammed Deif views the tunnels as a flagship project highlighting the strengthening of the military wing.

The fact that no weapons were found in the tunnel, and that Hamas realized that the tunnel was discovered about the same time the IDF did exposed and yet chose not to use it to attack the IDF reinforce the defense establishment’s opinion that the tunnel was not meant to infiltrate terrorists into Israel at the present time but rather it was to be used when the command was given or during a future escalation.

Via Ynet News

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