Israeli Army Hopes Extreme Storm Damaged Gaza Tunnels

Defense forces hoping recent storms thwarted underground terror conduits, currently searching for exposed openings.

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Storm damage is something people usually seek to avoid, but this year the army is hoping the storm that struck the region last weekend has indeed caused damage – to underground tunnels leading from the Gaza Strip into Israel.

Soldiers are canvassing Israeli territory near the Gaza border for signs of so-called attack tunnels, which make it possible for Palestinian militants to enter Israel and carry out a terror attack or abduct Israelis.

It’s no accident that another such tunnel, whose opening was located near Kibbutz Nir Oz, was found during the last rainy winter season, in January. That tunnel collapsed because of the extra precipitation, and the Gaza Division of the Israel Defense Forces is hoping the recent storm will have a similar effect this winter as well.

Israel’s security establishment has put a lot of money into developing technology that could help locate underground tunnels that can give terrorists a foothold in Israel, but so far it is low-tech solutions that have worked best, like flooding an area to see what the changes in the ground say about what may be hiding below.

But the army has not been cooling its heels until now.

In October, soldiers found an even larger tunnel than the one they discovered in January. This one measures 1.8 kilometers and had an opening near Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha. The tunnel was wired for electricity and had an internal communication mechanism, and its canopy was made of cement.

As the army was getting ready to demolish the tunnel in a controlled explosion, five soldiers were injured when a drill set off a bomb concealed underground. The bomb included diesel fuel, which caused the shock wave that injured the five soldiers, according to a senior military official.

“The IDF is acting all the time to eradicate terror threats of various kinds in all sectors,” said the IDF Spokesman’s Office. “For obvious reasons, we do not intend to elaborate.”

An Israeli soldier squatting in a tunnel exposed by the Israeli military near Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha, just outside the Gaza Strip, October 13, 2013.Credit: Reuters

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