According to a report by Haaretz this week, the Hamas terror group is believed to have rebuilt much of its cross-border tunnel infrastructure, 18 months after the Operation Protective Edge conflict in Gaza.
The report said: “Hamas is investing considerable effort and immense amounts of money in the tunnel project…The reasonable assessment is that the number of tunnels that extend beneath the border (into Israel) is now close to the number prior to (2014’s) Operation Protective Edge”.
The IDF detected and destroyed as many as 32 terror tunnels, and an additional 66 access shafts, during the Gaza conflict in July-August 2014.
Hamas developed the sophisticated network of interconnecting concrete-reinforced military tunnels to stage a number of terror attacks against Israel. During Operation Protective Edge, Hamas gunmen emerged from the tunnels on several occasions to ambush IDF forces, killing several soldiers.
A senior Hamas member, Rahman al-Mubashar, was killed late last month when a tunnel in which he was working collapsed. Al-Mabashar was one of the Hamas terrorists involved in the 2006 kidnapping of soldier Gilad Shalit, who was captured from his IDF base inside Israel by a terror cell that crossed in a tunnel beneath the border. Al-Mubashar died when the tunnel he was in collapsed “east of Khan Younis,” Hamas announced last month; implying the Israeli border.
In August 2015, Hamas released a video apparently showing renewed cross-border tunnel infrastructure in the Gaza Strip as well as a range of military equipment and techniques for targeting IDF forces. In the same month, the Shin Bet security agency said that a Hamas tunnel digger captured in a joint Shin Bet and police operation had provided a wealth of information on the terror group’s tunnel-digging in the Gaza and its strategy for a future conflict with Israel.
A month earlier, The Times of Israel reported that hundreds of workers were digging tunnels in various parts of Gaza, including under the Israeli border, inside the Strip and on the Egyptian border.