IDF checking claim that Hamas terror tunnel exists under Gaza border Kibbutz

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon inspects Hamas terror tunnel.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon inspects Hamas terror tunnel. (Alon Basson/Flash90)

The IDF is looking into claims by residents of Kibbutz Nirim after a private company concluded with near certainty that Hamas is still digging terror tunnels into Israel.

By Lauren Calin, World Israel News

The IDF will investigate reports of Hamas tunneling under Kibbutz Nirim in the Negev after a private contractor concluded that Hamas has seemingly resumed digging terror tunnels into Israel. Hamas boasted publicly that it was rebuilding the tunnels destroyed during Operation Protective Edge. The tunnels were part of a massive plot by Hamas to smuggle 200 terrorists into the south of Israel in order to kill and kidnap civilians and soldiers.

Nirim hired a private company, Geotech, which specializes in geological surveys, in order to investigate round-the-clock construction noises audible in parts of the kibbutz. According to the Geotech report, “A number of side entrances to a tunnel were identified with 70% certainty. The tunnel route was mapped out and marked with geophysical means.”

Two residents of Nirim, security coordinator Zev Etzion and Shahar Melamed, were killed during Operation Protective Edge when Hamas fired a mortar at the kibbutz, which is located only 7 km from Khan Younis in Gaza.

In response to Geotech’s report, the IDF sent letters to the residents of Nirim, informing them that an investigation will be carried out. “Any information obtained will be communicated to the public,” the IDF promised.

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Hamas is taking advantage of its autocratic rule of Gaza to expropriate cement intended for rebuilding houses in order to build its tunnels.

Tunnels have come to play a major part in Hamas’s military strategy, especially in light of the success of Iron Dome in defending against rockets. Tunnels are difficult to detect and can only be destroyed by soldiers on the ground. This means that the IDF cannot completely collapse a terrorist tunnel without sending troops into Gaza.

Israel and the US are cooperating on technology to neutralize the threat of terror tunnels, just as the Iron Dome anti-missile defense system has successfully minimized the danger of rockets. Last week, the House Armed Services Committee amended the National Defense Authorization Act, which sets the annual budget and spending priorities for the US Department of Defense, to include joint R&D on an anti-tunnel defense system.