Hamas has built an extensive network of tunnels that run from the Gaza
Strip to Israeli territory. The tunnels are used by groups of terrorists
to cross under the border to try and carry out attacks, murdering and
kidnapping Israeli citizens.
Since the beginning of Operation
Protective Edge, IDF has discovered 23 tunnels, some of which had exit
points inside Israeli territory. The rest are used for other terrorist
Attack tunnels are dug starting at a site hidden within
the Gaza Strip, most often private homes, greenhouses or public
buildings. They then make their way underground for up to two kilometers
(approximately a mile) until they reach their destination deep inside
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
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
The terror tunnels are far more sophisticated. They
are much longer, deeper and more difficult to uncover. They are
well-equipped with electrical and communication devices. Terror tunnels
can take a year or more to complete and require significant financial
resources, engineering knowledge, manpower and supplies (a single tunnel
can require up to 500 tons of concrete).
Hamas terrorists infiltrate Israel through tunnels in order to stage deadly attacks aimed at killing and kidnapping Israelis.
Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel several times through tunnels during Operation Protective Edge with the aim of killing and kidnapping Israelis, as evidenced by the weapons, plastic handcuffs and anesthetics seized from the terrorists who managed to infiltrate Israeli territory:
Early in the morning of 17 July, 13 Hamas terrorists emerged from a
tunnel only 1.5 km (less than an mile) away from Sufa, a kibbutz
(agricultural village) near the border with the Gaza Strip. Fortunately,
they were discovered by the IDF before they could invade the village.
Some of the terrorists were injured, while others succeeded in escaping.
Two Israeli soldiers were killed by the heavily-armed Hamas terrorists.
On 19 July, in another attempt to harm Israeli civilians, a group of
Hamas terrorists crossed under the border and emerged 700 meters (765
yards) from Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha. Again, IDF soldiers identified the
group in time and prevented them from attacking the village.
On 20 July, a massive terror tunnel was discovered by IDF forces 170
meters (186 yards) inside Israel, near Kibbutz Nativ HaAsara. Residents
of the village had to stay indoors and lock their doors and windows
until it could be confirmed that no terrorists had used the tunnel yet.
On 21 July, more than 10 heavily-armed terrorists infiltrated Israel
through another tunnel. They were planning to split into two groups: one
to attack Kibbutz Erez and the other Kibbutz Nir-Am. The terrorists
were wearing IDF uniforms to deceive civilians and Israeli security
forces. Ten of the terrorists were killed by IDF. Four IDF soldiers were
also killed during the battle.
The day before the start of the
operation, another disaster was averted when a large terror tunnel near
the Gaza border was uncovered and destroyed (7 July) before it could be
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 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.
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.
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 built bomb shelters for great numbers of
Palestinian civilians. Instead, Hamas prefers that the civilians remain
aboveground and unprotected. It is clear where Hamas' priorities lie:
killing and kidnapping Israelis is far, far more important to this
terrorist organization than protecting its own civilians