What Is Hamas Hiding In Its Underground Terror Nests?

The war over the tunnels is at its peak. During the ground maneuvers of Operation Protective Edge, IDF forces have succeeded in significantly damaging Hamas’ tunnel network. “We have destroyed about half of their tunnel abilities. We have damaged the underground network, and as the operation progresses, we realize how much they invested in this network and how strategic it is for them,” says an Operations Branch engineering officer of the Southern Command, Major Sagi. “Our objective is to thoroughly cleanse all the tunnels in the Gaza Strip, both internal ones and tunnels that infiltrate into Israel, and that is a very realistic goal. We need to be given enough time to be able to achieve this fundamental, comprehensive strike, while maintaining the security of the soldiers carrying out the operations.”

At this point, the IDF has discovered more than 60 tunnel openings and 33 tunnels. Fifteen of them have been completely destroyed by specialized forces. Now, the IDF forces are working along a “thorough cleaning” method. Every inch of ground they have covered is combed and mapped and that is where most of the tunnel network was found. Later, the tunnels are destroyed using various methods.

During this operation, the understanding has penetrated the IDF ranks that the underground infrastructure is used to target Israel. “There is no piece of ground that is not a path towards the interior of the country. Today we understand how many resources Hamas has invested in infiltration. The project is huge in the quantities of cement, infrastructure and time that was invested — all in an effort to carry out “quality” attacks on the Israeli home front,” says Major Sagi. “Each tunnel branches out several times. Some were meant to enable terrorists to infiltrate into Israel, while others are rigged with explosives. We found hundreds of kilograms of explosives under Israeli territory,” he revealed.

The tunnel openings are scattered all over the Gaza Strip — deep in built-up areas, on the outskirts of cities, in fields, and even in private homes. “We work with the assumption that overall, the openings are booby trapped, miraculously, not a single soldier has been injured in the tunnel exposure and destruction operations — a fact that is not something to be taken for granted.” Major Sagi emphasized that “the tunnel openings are camouflaged very well and most are explosives-rigged. Special engineering teams operate heavy equipment to prevent harm to those working in the area, and do as best they can to reduce the risks.”

Every tunnel that was located so far contained on average of four to 10 barrels of explosives, and several explosive devices. In addition, cables and sedatives were found , apparently intended to be used during a kidnapping of an Israeli civilian or soldier — which is a considered a “high quality” attack that yields a bargaining chip.

Over the last year, extensive intelligence work was conducted in an effort to locate these tunnels, which brought about the discovery of four terror tunnels in the year preceding Operation Protective Edge.