Hamas has reportedly resumed digging tunnels throughout the Gaza Strip in preparation for its next battle with Israel. According to the Hamas-affiliated website Arsalanet, tunnel construction has resumed, since they provide the organization, and particularly its military wing, with strategic depth.
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On Sunday, the website published an extensive report on the tunnels, including meetings and conversations between digging team commanders and team members who are part of Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, Hamas' military wing. According to the commander of one such team, the digging will not stop as long as security conditions allow it to continue.
“In Gaza today there is a kind of a lower city for people who work around the clock with primitive means but through these tools and tunnels they attain many achievements,” he said.
The team head, who goes by the name of Abu Khaled, said that work on the specific tunnel photographed for the Web report began a few years ago, adding that the tunnel was intended to deliver supplies to Hamas' military wing.
In recent years, the report said, Gaza City has become riddled with tunnels. Some are used for attacks and defense, while others are used to move around, far from Israel’s watching eyes.
The report pictured a tunnel that it said was attacked and severely damaged by Israel during this summer’s war, after a drone caught sight of a group of armed men exiting the tunnel. However, it has since been restored and has returned to operation, the commander said.
Tunnel diggers are considered the most elite units within Hamas. They are highly paid by the organization due to the dangerous nature of the work, including cave-ins, which mean certain death. The tunnels were one of Israel’s major focuses in Operation Protective Edge, and Hamas is trying to project a sense of business as usual and that despite the destruction of the war, the digging goes on.
Two weeks after a cease-fire went into effect to bring an end to 50 days of fighting, a senior Israeli official said Israel had received intelligence that indicated Hamas had begun reconstructing attack tunnels that were destroyed during the war.
The official added that Hamas militants had returned to arms smuggling through several tunnels that remain intact under the Philadelphi Route in Rafah. He said that the smuggling continued despite the Egyptian security forces' more concentrated and effective efforts to stamp out the tunnels.