In recent years, the Gaza Strip has seen a boom in construction projects. However these projects are largely invisible to the naked eye since most of them can only be found underground.
The Hamas tunnel industry used to be a well-known conduit for smuggling weapons, goods, funds and even terrorists into the Gaza Strip, mostly from the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. But the smuggling tunnels have been largely closed by Egypt. Now Hamas and the other terror organizations in Gaza are using their tunneling know-how and resources for a far more sinister purpose: terrorist attacks on Israeli territory.
Attack tunnels are dug from a site hidden within the Gaza Strip. They then make their way underground for hundreds of meters (and sometimes a few kilometers/a mile) until they reach their targets deep inside Israeli territory.
Hamas terrorists infiltrate Israel through tunnels in order to stage deadly attacks aimed at killing and kidnapping Israelis. Early this morning (17 July), 13 heavily armed Hamas terrorists emerged from a tunnel near Sufa, a kibbutz in southern Israel. Fortunately, they were discovered by the IDF before they could enter the village and carry out a massacre. Just 10 days ago (7 July), another disaster was averted when a large tunnel, which Hamas was planning on using to carry out a major terrorist attack in Israel, blew up.
Hamas utilized this method as early as 2006. The terrorist organization used a cross-border tunnel to attack Israel, killing two IDF soldiers and kidnapping a third, Gilad Shalit, who was held by Hamas for five years.
Hamas also uses tunnels to carry out attacks by transforming them into giant landmines. This method consists of digging a tunnel which ends underneath a civilian site, such as a kibbutz or village, or a military post. Explosives are crammed into the tunnel, and detonated at will. This type of tunnel was detonated near the Gaza border fence in November 2012.
In a twisted set of priorities, Hamas invests huge funds in the construction of this underground network of tunnels and bunkers, instead of providing for the needs of the population in Gaza.
In October 2013, the IDF discovered the opening of a tunnel near the Israeli community of Ein Hashlosha. The tunnel, which stretched into Israel from the city of Khan Yunis in Gaza, was approximately 1.7 kilometers (approximately 1 mile) long and 18 meters (59 feet) deep, and was equipped with electricity and phone lines. It took Hamas more than a year to complete and required significant engineering know-how, manpower and supplies.
Gaza's tunnels are literal money pits: a malevolent underground city built for the sole purpose of terrorism, emptying the already depleted coffers of the people of Gaza.
The tunnels also require a great deal of tangible resources. A single tunnel can use up to 500 tons of concrete and cement. Israel estimates that Hamas and the other organizations in Gaza have prepared dozens of terror tunnels.
The concrete used in these tunnels could have build bomb shelters for great numbers of Palestinian civilians. Instead, Hamas prefers that the civilians remain aboveground and unprotected. It is clear where Hamas' priorities lay: killing and kidnapping Israelis is far, far more important to this terrorist organization than protecting its own civilians.