Although 2013 saw fewer rocket attacks than previous years, terrorist organizations in Gaza are actively preparing to attack Israel. Under the guidance of engineering experts, Hamas continues to dig underground, building dozens of tunnels used to attack and kidnap Israelis. The terrorist organization is also manufacturing powerful weapons, producing rockets that can reach major Israeli cities such as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
During the past several years, civilians living in the Gaza Strip have become experts in building underground tunnels. Such smuggling tunnels have been used by terrorists to carry out attacks against Israeli civilians and military personnel. In 2006, armed terrorists infiltrated Israel through a smuggling tunnel, killing two soldiers and taking hostage a third – Gilad Shalit. This growing trend is directly linked to the policies of Hamas, the terrorist organization that rules the Gaza Strip. Hamas’ military wing devotes about twenty percent of its budget to building these tunnels inside Gaza, many of which lead under the border into Israel.
In October 2013, IDF (Zahal) soldiers discovered the opening of a tunnel built by Gazan terrorists near the Israeli community of Ein Hashlosha (see map below). The tunnel, which stretched into Israel from the Gazan city of Khan Yunis, was approximately 1.7 kilometers long and 18 meters deep.
According to experts, digging tunnels in the region’s terrain requires advanced knowledge of how they are built. This suggests that the terror tunnel was designed and constructed by professionals.
“Today, there’s one Gaza Strip above ground, and another one underground,” says a senior officer in the IDF (Zahal) Intelligence Corps. “Tunneling has existed [in Gaza] since the mid 1990s, but it has really grown into an industry. More funds are invested in it – we’re talking about millions of dollars every year – and the need for engineers are growing.”
“More funds are invested in it – we’re talking about millions of dollars per year”
Today, the tunnels in Gaza pose as much of a threat as Hamas’ weapons. “Our estimate is that there are tens of tunnels from Gaza into Israel, only half of which we know about,” the officer says. “Hamas pays professionals to train special military units that have one simple purpose: to dig and tunnel underground.”
Manufacturing its own rockets
Since the end of Operation Pillar of Defense, in November 2012, Hamas has been busy rebuilding its arsenal. Because importing weapons has become more difficult for Hamas, the terrorist organization has begun manufacturing rockets inside of the Gaza Strip. Today Hamas is producing its own rockets, namely the M-75, which can reach as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Hamas routinely parades the streets of Gaza with the rocket to show off its strength. These public displays allow Hamas to establish its dominance in Gaza while inspiring members of the younger generation to join its ranks.
“They focus on rockets of higher quality,” explains the officer. “During Operation Pillar of Defense, only five M-75 rockets were fired, but we expect more in a future conflict.” The rocket is only one part of Hamas’ expanding arsenal. Today there are more than 10,000 rockets, mortar shells and ammunition in the hands of the Gaza terrorists.