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March 3, 2016 4:15 pm

Report: New ‘Obstacle’ Being Developed to Detect, Destroy Hamas Tunnels

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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An IDF soldier finding a terror tunnel in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. Photo: IDF.

An IDF soldier finding a terror tunnel in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge. Photo: IDF.

A new underground defense system is in the works for the Israeli military, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.

According to the report, “The Obstacle” — the system to detect and destroy Hamas tunnels extending from Gaza into Israel — was recently proposed by the IDF to the Knesset, and will be partly funded by the US government, which has agreed to provide $40 million this year.

Though details of the system are confidential, security analysts told the WSJ that it will likely involve the use of acoustic sensors that can pick up sounds of digging or construction taking place underground.

Residents of Israel’s kibbutzim and moshavim in the south of the country along the Gaza border, have been complaining of hearing hammering and other noises emanating from under their homes, leaving them feeling vulnerable and fearing it is just a matter of time before terrorists infiltrate their communities. Hamas has released a number of videos — a couple of which are in Hebrew — showing terrorists in tunnels, and threatening to use the underground pathways to enter Israel and kidnap and/or kill soldiers and civilians.

As The Algemeiner reported, the IDF has said that every complaint lodged by Israelis hearing clamoring under their houses is taken seriously and investigated, but say that so far, no evidence has been found to back up these claims.

Residents’ fears, as were documented and reported on by The Algemeiner last month, come in the wake of Operation Protective Edge in the summer of 2014, the war that Israel launched against Hamas to destroy the terrorist organization’s infrastructure in Gaza, the enclave that it has controlled since 2006. The vast tunnel network it had created was the target of Israel’s ground incursion, while the air force bombed launching sites from where Hamas sent rockets and mortars into Israeli population centers, both prior to and during the war.

The Iron Dome missile defense system, deployed strategically in sensitive areas throughout Israel, was largely successful at intercepting Hamas rockets. The purpose of “The Obstacle,” according the WSJ report, is to serve a similar purpose in relation to the tunnels.

Reports of Hamas operatives being killed while building tunnels have emerged over the past few weeks, as have reports in the Arab press of cooperation between Israel and Egypt, the other country bordering Gaza, whose government also considers Hamas a threat, and whose main method of tackling the tunnels crossing under its own borders has been to flood them.

It has not been established whether the recent tunnel collapses have been perpetrated by external forces (i.e. the IDF or Egyptian army) or caused by accidents occurring during construction.

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