Residents of southern Israel’s Kibbutz Ein HaShlosha compared living in the Western Negev, adjacent to Gaza and Khan Yunis, to “Russian roulette.” Life under regular falling shrapnel from Hamas rockets was recently made worse, they said, by the discovery revealed last week that they are living above a vast tunnel network dug out by the Gaza based terror group along the border.
One major tunnel was found buried 18 meters underground and extending for 1.7 kilometers. It was the first of two tunnels the IDF closed in the area last week, after the Egyptian army damned up many of them along the Sinai border with Gaza over the Summer.
Ein HaShlosha, “Spring of the Three,” named in honor of three Zionist pioneers who were killed in the 1948 Arab-Israel war, has long been one of Israel’s outposts.
Originally named Neve Yair, and established in 1949 by members of the Lehi, it was abandoned in June 1950 after being bombed by the Egyptian army. In the 1950s, a group of Zionist youth from South America, members of the youth movement Hanoar Hatzioni, built Ein HaShlosha. Over the years, the kibbutz endured more conflict than most other Israeli towns because of its location. In 2008, it suffered hits during the Gaza conflict, and an Ecuadorian volunteer was shot and killed by a Hamas sniper while working on the kibbutz that same year.
The tunnels however, are adding another dimension of worry for the kibbutzniks at Ein HaShlosha.
Danny Cohen, a resident of Kibbutz Ein HaShlosha, in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2, described frequent scenes of chaos when shrapnel falls from rockets and mortars fired from Gaza.
“Every two weeks or once every ten days, we still hear falling (shrapnel). This is Russian roulette. Now, because of these tunnels, a skilled team of terrorists can come to the kibbutz withing 1o minutes and do something very serious,” he said.
Yossi Bornstein, another resident of the kibbutz told Channel 2, “Let there be no misunderstanding, everyone is afraid here. Whoever says he is not scared – he is a liar…”
“I did not sleep a wink the night I heard about it,” Orly, a third kibbutznik said about the tunnel. “On one hand they say ‘Great, we discovered the tunnel,’ and we are pleased it’s been discovered, but there’s hundreds more like that. So please go out and find the hundreds of others so that I can sleep peacefully.”