The Tunnel War

The IDF Military Spokesperson Unit announced that the Israel Defense Forces have uncovered thirteen tunnels with thirty-four access points to them across the Gaza Strip. To perhaps put a finer point on that, reliable civilian news outlets have stated that the IDF has uncovered and controls a dozen tunnels which lead under the border from Gaza straight into Israeli territory, directly threatening Israeli civilian communities within Israel’s pre-1967, internationally recognized borders.

Just so there’s no confusion here, we’re not talking about “Occupied or Disputed territories.” Nor are we talking about smuggling tunnels. The tunnels have been burrowed from Gaza, underneath the internationally recognized border of the State of Israel, and have exit points that put them in close proximity to civilian communities.

As has been widely reported in the international press, Hamas has three types of tunnels. One type is used for smuggling everything from luxury automobiles to advanced anti-tank missiles. Those tunnels are built by private Gazan contractors, who get rich off them, and are in turn taxed by Hamas, which makes a large part of their income from these smuggling operations.

The second type of tunnel which Hamas digs are the ones they dig for their leaders, to allow them to operate safe and sound from Israeli air strikes or artillery. These have been reported to be built beneath such institutions as Gaza’s largest hospital. The point not to be missed here is that Hamas knows how to build, not only smuggling tunnels, but sophisticated, air conditioned, structurally sound bomb shelters. And it does so … for its political and military elite, while they build no such shelters for their own people.

That is neither by accident, nor because of budget shortfalls, or shortages of building materials.

That is by design.

Hamas makes the most cynical use of the lives of its own civilian population imaginable. While Israel has spent dearly to create not only the Iron Dome anti Missile system which has proven so effective at saving lives, including, I’m happy to say, my own, Hamas spends next to nothing to protect their own people.

While Israel has invested massively in providing shelters almost every fifty meters in its border towns like Sderot, Hamas has spent its funds building, not defensive shelters for their own people, but homicide tunnels meant to provide the means to kill and kidnap Israeli civilians.

Indeed what could be more frightening than the thought of the holes literally opening up within a few hundred meters of your home and armed terrorists coming up out of the earth, like zombies in a horror movie, heading straight for your home, for you, for your children?

Once again, just so there is no mistake, these homicide tunnels are OFFENSIVE weapons. There is nothing defensive about them. They are built, not to defend Gazan civilians from Israeli attack, but to attack, kill and kidnap Israeli civilians.

They are not a response to Israeli aggression, they are one of the means of Hamas aggression against Israel.

The other thing to note is that these tunnels weren’t suddenly dug in response to Israel’s aerial campaign.

Israel began its aerial campaign in response to Hamas’ unrelenting rocket attacks, aimed almost exclusively at Israel’s civilian population centers.

Israel began it’s ground campaign in response to Hamas’s  use of a homicide tunnel to infiltrate thirteen terrorists, armed with anti tank missiles, machine guns , grenades and thousands of rounds of ammunition within a few hundred meters of a civilian farming community.

Imagine the earth opening up in front of your home and disgorging terrorists, armed to the teeth and coming for you and your children. Now ask yourself what you would think of a government, any government, of any country, which did not then activate its ground forces to take those tunnels out?

The loss of innocent Palestinian and Israeli lives is heartbreaking. It is all the more so because it is, and has been, completely unnecessary, ever since Israel accepted unconditionally, the Egyptian sponsored cease fire proposal, which had been endorsed not only by the United States, but by the Arab League as well!

Israel, Egypt and the Arab League were in agreement!

It was Hamas which answered the request for a cease fire, not only with increased rocket fire, but a terrorist tunnel attack aimed at Israeli civilians -- and foiled only by the actions of the IDF.

Every death which has needlessly occurred since then could have been completely avoided had Hamas accepted the cease fire, not that Israel had proposed, but which had been proposed by their fellow Moslem, Arab brethren.

This morning, according to the IDF Military Spokesperson Unit, IDF forces foiled another terrorist attack. "Terrorists disguised in IDF uniform, in order to deceive and attack unsuspecting Israelis, infiltrated into Israel from the Gaza Strip” via yet another terrorist tunnel. Not long after the IDF prevented another attack on the border with the southern Gaza Strip. In the aftermath of the incident, forces uncovered tranquilizers and handcuffs (in one of the terrorist’s) possession.

Later that evening a third attack from a terrorist tunnel was foiled by IDF forces as well.

The Iron Dome protects against rocket attacks. But it can’t do a thing about terrorist tunnels. For that, you need boots on the ground. That is why we operating on the ground in Gaza. And all Hamas needs to do to put an end to the so called cycle of violence is accept the cease fire put forward by their brethren, and already agreed to by Israel, and thus, join Israel in trying to build a cycle of peace. Tragically for both our peoples, it may take the IDF to convince them to do just that.

Dan Gordon

Capt. IDF (res)