Gaza tunnels
IDF work to find tunnels on Gaza border. (photo credit:IDF SPOKESMAN’S UNIT)


For the first time since the August 2014 ceasefire came into effect, Hamas has launched cross-border mortar attacks on the IDF throughout Wednesday.

Hamas is targeting IDF units engaged in new, hi-tech tunnel detection work on the border between Israel and northern Gaza. It is escalating the situation due its fear that it is about to lose its trump card.

Hamas has invested much treasure and blood into cross-border tunnel capabilities, and its military wing is truly alarmed by what it perceives as one Israeli breakthrough after another in tunnel detection efforts.

Although Hamas is also keen on improving its rocket, drone, and sea-based attack capabilities, the tunnel construction program remain its crown jewel, due to the psychological terrorism that tunnels inflict on southern Israeli civilians, and their relative effective use during the two-month conflict in 2014, during which Hamas used them to kill IDF soldiers inside Israel.

So far, the IDF has responded to Wednesday’s stream of mortar shells in pinpoint, localized manner, using tank fire to return fire at Hamas positions. Yet the ceasefire is now facing its first real challenge, and a security escalation could easily become a reality in the near future. This is also a test of previous claims by defense officials of a zero-tolerance policy to Hamas breaches of the truce.

As noted in previous coverage last month, the discovery in April of a tunnel going from southern Gaza into Israel, and subsequent progress in detection in other areas, means Israel has obtained what it hasn’t had before: A precise ability to know where Hamas’s tunnels snake their way under the ground.

Hamas knows its rockets are not what they used to be, mainly because of the ever-growing effectiveness of the Iron Dome air defense batteries, which have grown in both number and ability since 2014.

Since the end of Operation Protective Edge, Israel has invested over 600 million shekels into technological tunnel detection means, and it is implementing these capabilities now. The defense establishment is not about to stop its work for fear of an escalation. The tunnels violate Israel’s sovereignty, and Hamas stands far more to lose from an escalation than Israel.

The tunnels are supposed to enable Hamas to inject its highly trained and heavily armed Nuhba Force members into Israel in a future war.

These terrorist units would then act as death squads, murdering and maiming Israelis, or kidnapping them.

The fact that Gaza’s economy is, once again, on the brink of imploding – due to Hamas’s insistence of using its enclave as a fortress of jihad against Israel, rather than investing in its people’s welfare – is another factor that could hasten a new conflict.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post