|The vast investment of manpower and cash being made by|
Hamas in tunnels is often concealed by media reporting that emphasizes
how cows and goats are moved around via those tunnels. In reality, as this image
shows, they exist to serve an attack-focused terror strategy [Image Source: BBC]
At least some of the challenges of the year ahead are not so hard to divine. From this morning (Monday) and Times of Israel:
Sirens warning of an impending rocket attack blared early Monday morning in communities in the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council in southern Israel. The projectile reportedly landed inside the Gaza Strip. The Code Red alarm sounded just before 7:00 a.m. on Monday. The IDF said in a statement shortly thereafter that they didn’t identify any rocket impacts in Israeli territory...Yet another Gazan "fell short" rocket (there's a long history of those, though the fact they fall onto Arab heads is rarely remarked) with no indication of the Arab-on-Arab damage that almost certainly followed in the tightly-packed Gaza Strip.
Reuters reported this morning ["Israeli aircraft strikes Gaza after militants fire rocket - military"] not on the rocket attack but on Israel firing back at Hamas targets:
No casualties were reported following the air strike, Gaza residents said. The rocket fired towards southern Israel set off sirens after tracking systems monitored the launch but it landed inside the Gaza Strip, a military statement said. Small jihadist cells in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Islamist group Hamas, sometimes launch rockets into Israel.Responsibility for another Arab-on-Israeli rocket attack earlier this month ["05-Oct-16: A Gazan rocket crashes into a residential street in southern Israel"] was claimed by one of the non-Hamas terror organizations operating under the aegis of Hamas:
Hamas has observed a de facto ceasefire with Israel since 2014, when 2,100 Palestinians and 73 Israelis were killed in a war. But Israel says it holds the groups responsible for all rocket launches from the territory. [Reuters, today]
The Islamic State-affiliated Ahfad al-Sahaba-Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis terrorist group took responsibility for that attack. In a statement, the group said the attack on Sderot was a response to Hamas arresting several members of the organization... A Hamas official said [today] the group told Israel it would not allow other terrorist groups within Gaza to further inflame the situation, according to Israel Radio... [Times of Israel today]The Turkish news agency Anadolu inadvertently insults its Hamas friends with a brief news report today that includes this whopper:
Though Hamas fighters rarely launch the rockets, Israel strikes their locations in response, arguing the Palestinian group is responsible for controlling other armed groups because it governs the coastal enclave. In July and August of 2014, Israel waged a weeks-long military offensive against the Gaza Strip with the ostensible aim of staunching rocket fire from the coastal enclave. [Anadolu Agency, today]A pity the editors at Anadolu pretend to be unaware of the intense rocket war - which Amnesty (of all people) called "war crimes" - waged by Hamas against Israelis in 2014, and since:
Rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian militant groups during last summer's conflict in Gaza amounted to war crimes, Amnesty International says. Militants displayed a "flagrant disregard" for the lives of civilians during the 50-day war, a report found. Six civilians in Israel and 13 Palestinians are believed to have been killed as a result of such attacks. Hamas, which dominates Gaza, said Amnesty's report contained many inaccuracies and false allegations... According to UN data, more than 4,800 rockets and 1,700 mortars were fired from Gaza towards Israel between 8 July and 26 August. Around 224 projectiles are believed to have struck Israeli residential areas... ["Amnesty: Hamas rocket attacks amounted to war crimes", BBC, March 26, 2015]How seriously should Hamas declaring its opposition to inflame the situation (see that Times of Israel reprt above) be taken? Not very. Here's another dimension of current Hamas realities:
A Hamas operative died while working in a tunnel in the Gaza Strip Monday, the second death reported in recent days in the Palestinian terror group’s ranks. Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, announced that Ameir Jaber Abu Tuaima, 22, died during construction of a tunnel beneath the Palestinian coastal enclave. The announcement posted on the group’s website didn’t mention the cause of death, merely stating the Tuaima died in an “accident” near the southern city of Khan Younis. It wasn’t clear whether Tuaima died in a tunnel collapse, as another member of Hamas did on Saturday. The collapse on Saturday was the latest in a series of cave-ins to claim Palestinian lives. Over a dozen Palestinians, most of them reportedly members of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, have been killed in collapses since the beginning of the year. The official Palestinian news agency WAFA identified the man killed over the weekend as Anas Abu Lashin, 22, and said he was a member of Hamas’s military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. He was reportedly working in a tunnel in the al-Maghazi area in central Gaza when it caved in. The Brigades in a statement said Abu Lashin was killed “during preparation” of a tunnel, but did not provide further details. The [Hamas] Islamist terror movement which controls the coastal enclave has a network of tunnels in the territory, both for smuggling and attack purposes. It was not clear which type of tunnel Abu Lashin was killed in. ["Second Hamas man dies in tunnel ‘accident’ since Saturday", Times of Israel, October 24, 2016]Ma'an News Agency says the Hamas person killed in the tunnel today was
...a member of the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement... According to a statement released by the Brigades, one of their fighters died during a “mission” when the tunnel collapsed on him. The statement identified the fighter as Amir Jaber Abu Tuima from the town of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip.On a mission. Right.
Just two days ago, Yediot/Ynet published an interview with one of the IDF's key people in the war against those Gazan attack tunnels ["The colonel's tunnel war", Ynet, October 22, 2016]. Some points lifted from the article:
- [Hamas are] "investing thousands of man hours into this. It's taking over a large portion of the Gaza Strip's economy, and pulling Gaza downward—literally. They've developed a high level of expertise in the field over the past 20 years. That takes almost every resource that has entered the strip from its residents: Wood, concrete, tools. It leads to high taxes on residents, who are already greatly suffering... We've been investing great resources to locate them, particularly over the past year. We are becoming smarter on the topic of tunnels every day, due to the friction. We manage to understand the idea, and identify the weakpoints and find solutions. That's the most I can say."
- The State of Israel is investing NIS 2.5 billion in what's called the "Barrier project," meant to block Hamas tunnels. It includes an underground wall that goes dozens of meters deep into the earth, a smart fence along the border, and advanced means of detection.
- "The project is meant to be a pretty decisive answer, and will change the situation when it comes to all types of threats, especially the tunnel threat. It will ensure security at a very high level. This is a complex system, which handles threats above and below ground, watches the enemy's possible actions, and responds as needed. However, I cannot say that the barrier we're building will provide 100 percent protection, because there is no 100 percent."