Hamas tunnel: a key element in its new strategy


A 1,800m tunnel leading from under the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, discovered by the IDF last week, was to be used at a future date by Hamas to carry out a terror attack or kidnapping.

The last 300m of the tunnel end near Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha. According to Israeli intelligence, it was almost certainly excavated by Hamas and took over 18 months, ending this June, to build.

The tunnel, which in parts was deep as 22m, was paved throughout with concrete slabs and included electricity and a telephone line.

The discovery of the underground passage, apparently following a tip-off from an informer, has not changed the basic Israeli view that Hamas is currently interested in keeping the ceasefire while consolidating its control of Gaza and rebuilding its military infrastructure destroyed during last year's Operation Pillar of Defence.

The tunnel was most likely meant for a future operation in which Hamas would try to kidnap Israeli soldiers or carry out a high-profile attack deep in Israeli territory.

Major General Sammy Turgeman, the chief of the IDF's Southern Command, said that while Hamas is actively working to prevent other Palestinian groups from attacking Israel, "it is building up its power with rockets and tunnels".

Following the discovery, Hamas blew up a section of the tunnel beneath buildings in Gaza.

Israel suspended the supply of cement to Gaza, despite the fact that most of the materials used in the tunnel were smuggled from Egypt.

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