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July 21, 2014 8:37 pm

Israelis Living Near Gaza: ‘We’re Like Ducks in a Shooting Gallery’

avatar by Dave Bender

A cut-away diagram of Shuja'iya, Gaza, showing how a mosque is connected to adjacent buildings by tunnels, allowing militants to hide rockets and attack Israel through the underground tunnel network. Photo: IDF.

A cut-away diagram of Shuja'iya, Gaza, showing how a mosque is connected to adjacent buildings by tunnels, allowing militants to hide rockets and attack Israel through the underground tunnel network. Photo: IDF.

In the two weeks since the onset of the Israeli army’s Operation Protective Edge to stop rocket salvos from Gaza, area residents in dozens of kibbutzim, towns and villages are now coping with threats from another direction: terror infiltrators via terror tunnels.

“We’re like ducks in a shooting gallery,” Raya Pasi of Kibbutz Yad Mordechai, north of the coastal enclave, told Israel’s Channel 2 News on Monday.

“This is a threat that’s coming up between our feet,” she said of the repeated attempts to strike civilian communities from underground.

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There have been four tunnel terrorist attacks within three days.
Early Monday, near southern Gaza, terrorists with handcuffs and syringes containing knockout drugs, and disguised in IDF uniforms and webbing succeeded in killing four IDF soldiers some 200 meters from Kibbutz Nir Am.

Ten other Palestinian infiltrators were killed in a firefight with troops and helicopters, which averted a major kidnapping attempt.

“It’s a sense of great fear, mixed with uncertainty,” Pasi said. “You have no idea where the tunnel ends and where they’ll pop up.”

Until the latest fighting, she and her neighbors “didn’t understand the significance” of the threat. “Our kibbutz is fairly well protected (against missiles), and that provides a sense of security against the rockets,” she pointed out.

“But the possibility of a terrorist infiltration by tunnel is different kind of threat, and it’s always in the back of your mind,” Pasi said. “Who knows where the next infiltration will be?”

At Kibbutz Re’em, Reuven displays a gun he keeps in a safe at home. “You can’t prepare for this kind of threat,” he tells the reporter, recalling the abduction of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, who was held by Hamas for five years.

“We’ve gone eight years since the kidnapping, and it’s frightening to think just how much the danger has expanded,” Reuven said.

“Only now are we being exposed to the threat that’s only growing beneath our feet; we couldn’t believe it when (security officials) told us their estimates of just how many tunnels there are.”

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