A few notes on those Hamas tunnels, the destruction of which drove the latter half of Operation Protective Edge
Israeli military, intelligence, and political officials have known for years that Hamas fighters were burrowing into their country from Gaza through underground tunnels. An Israeli army spokesman said this month that the military had discovered four tunnels just in the past 18 months, well before Israel’s current ground offensive began. But in interviews, current and former Israeli officials said the military and intelligence services didn’t realize the extent of Hamas’s subterranean operations, nor did political leaders act to counter a threat that has become the central focus of Israel’s Gaza campaign and stands as potentially the biggest Israeli intelligence failure in years.
A senior Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the military has so far discovered far more tunnels — 40 and counting — than Israel had previously thought existed. The number came as a surprise, as did the sophistication of the tunnel network. Current and former officials said that Israeli intelligence and political leaders knew that the tunnels were fortified with concrete and had space to store weapons and food. But Israeli intelligence analysts and political leaders didn’t comprehend that the tunnels were wide enough to move several Hamas fighters into the country at a time, and they didn’t realize how many of the tunnels ended up in Israel, particularly near civilians. (A Hamas video that shows fighters emerging from a tunnel and attacking an Israeli military installation provides a vivid example of why Israelis have so come to fear the clandestine attacks.)
How big are these tunnels?
Israel understood that tunnels from Gaza posed a “huge risk” as early as October 2013, when the IDF discovered a long tunnel underneath the kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, just east of the border with Gaza, Col. Grisha Yakubovich, the head of the civil department in the IDF’s Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories, said in an interview.
The tunnel was enormous: It ran 1.5 miles, 66 feet below the ground. Authorities estimated that some 350 tons of concrete were used to build it, enough to build a small hospital three floors high, Yakubovich said. “We were amazed by the size of it.”
Which points out a tough dilemma for Hamas: Building hospitals to hide the rockets you attack Israel with, or build tunnels to conduct kidnapping of Israelis? Decisions, decisions…
Here’s Wolf Blitzer touring one of the tunnels:
Here’s Hamas’ own propaganda video on their tunnels:
And what were they planning to use them for?
“Hamas is said to have planned a huge terrorist attack that would taken place on September 24, 2014, which is Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.”