IDF Destroys Hamas Terror Tunnel

After its discovery last summer during Operation Protective Edge, the IDF has finally destroyed a terror tunnel meant to be used by Hamas in an attack against Israel.

IDF soldiers stand around a Hamas terror tunnel opening.  (Flash 90)

IDF soldiers stand around a Hamas tunnel opening. (Flash 90)

The IDF has destroyed a Hamas tunnel originally discovered during Operation Protective Edge near Kibbutz Nahal Oz in southern Israel. Combat engineers dispatched to the area were surprised to discover that what had been reported as the “tail” of a terror tunnel led, in fact, to a previously undiscovered tunnel.

Hamas dug dozens of tunnels as part of a plot to infiltrate Israel and carry out a massive terrorist attack. The terror organization is reportedly engaged in building new tunnels to replace those destroyed over the summer.

The IDF confirmed in a statement that it had spent the past several days destroying the tunnel, which contained “a number of old weapons.” The tunnel was first discovered during the summer, and most of it was destroyed at the time. The statement did not explain why parts of the tunnel were left intact for so many months, but noted that these sections were all within Israeli territory and therefore posed no threat to security. There may still be intact stretches of the tunnel within Gaza.

The head of the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council, Alon Schuster, expressed his gratitude to the IDF. “The soldiers of the IDF continue to sacrifice their lives for us. The IDF operated at this time, in this region, according to security consideration. We were updated in advance, and I welcome this operation and those yet to be carried out,” he said in an official statement.

As Israel perfects the intercepting of rockets from Gaza, Hamas continues focusing on the tunnels. Hamas-affiliated newspaper Al-Risalah ran a special report last October on the reconstruction of the tunnels, describing the diggers as “bees in a beehive.” It is believed that cement intended for the reconstruction of Gaza is being diverted by Hamas for tunnel construction. Also, Iran recently resumed its patronage of Hamas, which had been halted due to their having taken opposing sides in Syria’s civil war.

Tunnels offer a number of strategic advantages, including the fact that they are difficult to locate and destroy. Their depth protects them from aerial bombardment, and their entrances are often concealed in densely populated civilian areas. This means that the IDF can destroy them only from the Israeli side unless it carries out a ground incursion into enemy territory, as it did in Operation Protective Edge.

In late January, the IDF dug exploratory holes near the town of Zar’it near the Lebanese border in order to allay fears that Hezbollah was also constructing tunnels.

By: Atara Beck, World Israel News staff