Gaza-based terror group says extensive tunnel system can be used for capturing Israeli soldiers, repelling IDF ground offensives.
By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News
Members of Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad gave Arabic-language and international media a tour of their extensive tunnel systems and weapons storehouses earlier this week, demonstrating their readiness for a fresh round of conflict with Israel.
An underground “tunnel city,” which is virtually undetectable from above ground or the air, is a central part of the terror group’s military strategy, an Islamic Jihad official told AFP. Beyond the tunnels, the group has well-hidden weapons storage sites nestled at the foot of nearby sandy hills and in wooded areas.
Several Islamic Jihad operatives showed media their weapons stockpiles, including machine guns, ammunition, and grenade launchers. According to the AFP report, these sites are replete with telecommunications cables, electricity and ventilation.
Islamic Jihad’s tunnels can be used for both offensive and defensive purposes, an official said.
He told AFP that an offensive tunnel “is used for taking Israeli soldiers captive, repelling Israeli ground offensives and carrying out various field operations.”
In 2014, a squad of armed Hamas operatives infiltrated into Israel via a tunnel from Gaza, launching an anti-tank missile at a group of IDF soldiers positioned near Kibbutz Nahal Oz. Five soldiers and one Hamas terrorist were killed, though several of the operatives were able to escape back into the tunnel in a major blunder for the IDF.
During May 2021’s Operation Guardian of the Walls clash between Israel and Gaza, the Jewish state destroyed wide swathes of Hamas’ “metro” system, rendering much of their tunnel system unusable and wielding a serious blow to the terror group’s operation capabilities.
Egypt regularly destroys tunnels from Gaza, which could be used for smuggling weapons or other military gear, and Israel recently debuted an underground steel wall which the Jewish State says prevents tunnels from extending into its territory.
When asked by AFP how the tunnels benefit Islamic Jihad if they can’t reach Egypt or Israel, a spokesman for the terror group, identified by his nom de guerre Abu Hamza, said they are still a “strategic weapon for the resistance.”
“We will let the days and the battles to come do the talking about the ability of the resistance to break through this so-called [Israeli] barrier,” he said.