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February 17, 2016

USA Today Highlights Terror Tunnels

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IDF soldiers stand outside the entrance of a Hamas terror tunnel


Writing in USA Today, Shira Rubin (“Israel Fears Tunnel War by Hamas,” Feb. 15, 2016) covers Israeli concerns about Hamas’ tunnel construction.

Rubin notes an Israeli military assessment that Hamas, the U.S.-designated terrorist group which rules the Gaza Strip, is employing 1,000 Gazan diggers to construct a large underground tunnel to sit atop smaller tunnel systems. The purpose of these tunnels is to kidnap and murder Israelis.

Some of the tunnels have electricity and telephone lines, but most do not. The underground passages, Rubin reports, give Hamas “a rare advantage against a vastly superior Israeli military.”

In 2006, the tunnels were used by Hamas to kill two Israeli Defense Force (IDF) soldiers and to kidnap a third, Gilad Shalit. Shalit was held captive for five years before he was released in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.

USA Today quotes Betty Gavri, who lives on Kibbutz Nir Am, where residents can hear Hamas digging underneath them: “This conflict has reached a point where you’re fighting not another army but terrorism, which…makes all public spaces into a battlefield.”

By taking the time to note everyday Israeli concerns, Rubin reports an aspect of the Arab-Israeli conflict that many in the media too often miss. She details not only Hamas’ actions, but the group’s statements as well.

USA Today notes Jan. 29, 2016 statements by Hamas head Ismael Hanieyeh praising diggers killed in tunnel collapses as “heroes” and calling for more terror tunnel construction and “experimenting” with rockets aimed at the Jewish state. Although winter rains have caused some tunnels to collapse, Hamas nonetheless has boasted that it is only expanding construction.

A Lexis-Nexis search of other major U.S. print news media shows only USA Today detailed Hanieyeh’s exhortations.

The paper also reports IDF efforts to counter the tunnels.

Israel received a $120 million U.S. grant to develop an underground defense system that, Rubin says is “able to detect the digging of tunnels dozens of yards below ground.” This system “could represent a major military defeat for Hamas and a big psychological boost for Israelis.”

In addition to this high-tech effort, the IDF is using “considerable engineering and intelligence efforts” to locate and destroy the terror tunnels, according to Israeli military chief Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot.

Yet, the danger to Israel is great. Rubin reports quotes Eado Hecht, a military researcher who testified during the 2015 U.N. commission investigating the 2014 Israel-Hamas war. “Israel’s only short-term option is to go into Gaza to destroy the tunnels, as was done in the 2014 war, which was enormously costly in terms of casualties and also politically,” Hecht said.

USA Today deserves recognition for shining a light on Hamas’ terror tunnels.

Posted by SD at February 17, 2016 01:07 PM

Comments

My humble opinion is the Israelis need to pump salt water into the tunnels to force their collapse, and the collapse of the soil above the tunnels. So a few buildings collapse. The area residents know there are tunnels there, and dirt is being disposed of. Where did all the waste dirt from the previous tunnels go? That alone would be a huge expense.

Posted by: milwaukee at February 17, 2016 06:20 PM

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