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April 19, 2016 6:55 am

Discovery of Terror Tunnel Shows Hamas Still Targeting Innocent Israelis

avatar by Steven Emerson

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An IDF soldier at the entrance to a Hamas tunnel. Photo: Wikipedia.

An IDF soldier at the entrance to a Hamas tunnel. Photo: Wikipedia.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) discovered a cross-border tunnel leading into Israel from the Gaza Strip, proving that Hamas maintains an underground terrorist infrastructure dedicated to the kidnapping and murder of Israeli civilians.

“The IDF and security forces thwarted a serious disaster…it is important to note that this single tunnel had one goal: to murder innocent women and children in Israel,” Yair Lapid, head of the Yesh Atid party, said on Sunday.

Lapid also referred to the existence of underground tunnels as an equivalent to a “land invasion of Israel.”

The tunnel stretched about 30 yards into Israel, opening up near a farming community. “The working assumption is that this is not the only tunnel penetrating into Israel, that there are others,” said IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner.

The tunnel reportedly dates back to the summer 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, suggesting that Israel failed to destroy all of the offensive tunnels under its territory. Yet this discovery also suggests that technological means incorporated in Israel’s counter-tunnel efforts are somewhat effective.

Since the war ended, Hamas has openly invested significant amounts of resources in the reconstruction of its offensive tunnel capabilities. The terrorist organization devotes roughly 1,000 operatives — working 24 hours a day, six days a week — and millions of dollars per month solely to its underground tunnel network.

During the 2014 war, Hamas sent 13 heavily armed terrorists through a similar tunnel that opened near a kibbutz, hoping to launch a major attack on Israelis. The IDF detected the attempt and was able to kill many of the terrorists.

Despite some Israeli successes in combatting Hamas’ underground activities, this latest development suggests that activity continues undetected. Israel’s military and intelligence agencies are constantly trying to expose the tunnels. IDF bulldozers are working at the Gaza border, searching for other offensive tunnels dug into Israeli territory.

Covert attempts at stifling Hamas’ activities also play an important role. Palestinian reports claim that a Hamas operative is being interrogated by the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence service, after crossing into Israel.

According to IDF assessments, Hamas will try to gain control of an Israeli border town through its tunnels in an attempt to kidnap Israeli civilians as hostages. Moreover, the terrorist organization will continue digging tunnels in an effort to overcome its military inferiority with Israel.

A recent World Bank report confirms that only 9 percent of Gaza homes destroyed in the 2014 war have been rebuilt, confirming that Hamas continues to divert cement and reconstruction material to rebuild its terrorist infrastructure at the expense of its civilian population.

Steven Emerson is the Executive Director the Investigative Project on Terrorism (www.investigativeproject.org) where this article first appeared.

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