Posted tagged ‘terror tunnels’

Israeli jets strike third Palestinian terror tunnel

January 14, 2018

Israeli jets strike third Palestinian terror tunnel, DEBKAfile, January 14, 2018

The Israel air strike Saturday night, Jan. 13, in the southern Gaza Strip was aimed at a terror tunnel running 180m into Israel that Hamas was building under the Kerem Shalom crossing through which convoys of goods pass from Israel to the Gaza Strip. It also ran into Egyptian territory under the Rafah border between Gaza and Sinai. This was disclosed early Sunday by the IDF spokesman. He noted that Israeli fighters hit the tunnel at the Gaza end. Work to finish its demolition continued Sunday. The new tunnel ran under the gas and heavy oil pipelines through which Israel supplies the Gaza Strip population with fuel.

This was the third Palestinian terror tunnel Israel had discovered and destroyed in the Gaza Strip in recent months. Hamas and the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad were responsible for the first two.

DEBKAfile adds: Clearly the IDF has been able to develop the technology for detecting and destroying the terror tunnels, so robbing Palestinians of one of their prime weapons of terror against Israel. Hamas will also have understood that Israel gave Egypt prior warning of its air strike Saturday night. This prompted the night curfew Cairo imposed on northern Sinai including the Rafah region an hour earlier. The tunnel network is also Hamas’ main conduit for smuggling arms and combatants into and out of the Gaza Strip through Sinai. Now that the Gaza Strip is under total land blockade, the Palestinian terrorist group faces hard options: Accept Egyptian and Fatah terms for reconciliation, launch a massive rocket attack on Israel, or call on the help of its allies Iran and Hizballah for action to break the blockade and deliver funds and weapons that can overwhelm the IDF and its new anti-tunnel technology.

How Israel is bringing an end to Hamas’ tunnels

December 12, 2017

How Israel is bringing an end to Hamas’ tunnels, Al-Monitor

In the same week that Hamas is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its founding and Israel is marking the 30th anniversary of the start of the first intifada (1987), Hamas finds itself facing a multifaceted crisis. It has ceded government control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority, it continues to be isolated internationally and Israel’s missile defense system has successfully neutralized 89% of the threat posed by rockets to the Israeli homefront, based on Defense Ministry figures from Protective Edge. Now the tunnels are slipping out of its hands as well. Hamas will have to reinvent itself if it wants to remain relevant. Given its current conditions and the means at its disposal, it will be especially difficult to do.


There were no loud explosions, and no plumes of black smoke rose along Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip. The latest Hamas tunnel was discovered weeks ago using advanced technology developed by Israel. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) kept news of the tunnel secret until completing preparations to neutralize it with innovative methods.

It is worth remembering that the last time the IDF destroyed a tunnel dug by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement it failed to realize that members of the terrorist group were inside it at the time. Despite efforts to extricate survivors, the demolition of the tunnel resulted in the deaths of 12 Islamic Jihad and Hamas fighters and almost led to a major conflagration. This time, the tunnel was neutralized in absolute silence.

Hamas appears to have had no idea that its strategic tunnel had been located or that it had been targeted by the IDF for weeks. Following the operation, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Dec. 10, “Thanks to the joint efforts of the IDF, the Ministry of Defense and the defense industries, we have reached new technological capacities in the struggle against terrorism and the terror tunnels. I hope that over the next few months, the threat posed by the tunnels to Israelis living in localities surrounding the Gaza Strip will be a thing of the past.”

Liberman’s comments prompted a series of public statements by top Israeli officials that after investing unlimited resources and the extensive efforts of the country’s finest minds, Israel has managed to remove the threat of the tunnels, which have kept the people of the south up at night for the past few years. The truth is much more complicated, though there is no doubt that Israel is getting closer to achieving this capacity.

“It’s not like we have some machine that locates tunnels and destroys them,” a senior defense official told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “This is a system based on the integration of three parallel approaches: shielding, intelligence and technology.”

As of now, this approach is effectively keeping Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip sealed. Israel estimates that in the near future it will be able to eradicate the existing tunnels entirely and make it impossible to dig new ones.

The Hamas tunnel destroyed this week was especially long, stretching several hundred meters into Israel. Israeli officials say that it was intended to allow Hamas to strike behind IDF lines in the next round of violence, just as the group attempted to do during Operation Protective Edge. Now Hamas has been denied that ability.

The movement developed its underground strategy to gain an advantage over the IDF, but that advantage is decreasing rapidly. This development is forcing Hamas to confront a strategic dilemma. Should it accept the existing situation and search for new ways to attack Israel, or should it act quickly to take advantage of whatever tunnels it may have left before it is too late to use them?

This danger is one reason the IDF did not make a big deal of the tunnel’s neutralization on Dec. 10. Apart from some warnings by the chief of the Southern Command, Eyal Zamir, to Hamas and Islamic Jihad that the tunnels would become a death trap for their fighters, the IDF has remained quiet. “There’s no need to celebrate,” one senior military official told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity. “These are sensitive times, especially after President [Donald] Trump’s declaration concerning Jerusalem. There is no reason to help anyone who wants to bring about the deterioration [of the security situation].”

Israel’s approach to this operation was based on three components. The first, shielding, consists of a vast underground cement barrier being built along the border that should eventually encompass the entire Gaza Strip. The wall extends several dozen meters underground, and experts say that there is no way to dig tunnels beneath it. The wall is outfitted with sensors and other technologies to detect other tunnels and identify new excavation efforts.

The second component, intelligence, involves using all means at the disposal of Israel’s defense establishment — HUMINT (human intelligence), SIGINT (electronic signal intelligence) and others — to learn where and when militants are excavating tunnels. The IDF has told Al-Monitor that Israel has put together a very good picture of what is happening on the ground.

The third component, technology, includes the major innovation that enabled Israel to locate the two tunnels in the past two months. It was an integrated effort by all of Israel’s defense industries. The Defense Ministry’s Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure set up a lab near the Gaza Strip for the country’s finest minds to tackle the problem.

“Each meter that we check takes a lot of time and serious investments,” a senior Israeli military official told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “but we are getting results.”

Despite remarks by a number of Israeli leaders this week, the country’s ability to identify and destroy the tunnels and to seal its border with the Gaza Strip has yet to be perfected. “We are making progress. Our capacity will improve, and we will reach a stage in which we can announce that there are zero tunnels and that the threat has been neutralized,” one senior Israeli security official said on condition of anonymity. “But we’re not there yet.”

In the same week that Hamas is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its founding and Israel is marking the 30th anniversary of the start of the first intifada (1987), Hamas finds itself facing a multifaceted crisis. It has ceded government control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority, it continues to be isolated internationally and Israel’s missile defense system has successfully neutralized 89% of the threat posed by rockets to the Israeli homefront, based on Defense Ministry figures from Protective Edge. Now the tunnels are slipping out of its hands as well. Hamas will have to reinvent itself if it wants to remain relevant. Given its current conditions and the means at its disposal, it will be especially difficult to do.


Terror tunnel bingo

November 1, 2017

Terror tunnel bingo, Israel National News, Jack Engelhard, October 31, 2017

Will there be parades in Gaza and Ramallah for the terrorist who committed bloodshed in Manhattan today?

Only we regret. I get it, we’re Jewish. We are supposed to be different. We are supposed to be better.

Maybe, as I’ve written elsewhere, we should be worse once in a while, and then maybe they’d leave us alone.

[T]o borrow from Patton: 

“No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”


A few days ago the Israelis found yet another terror tunnel leading into Israeli territory and thinking it was empty, blew it to smithereens. Turns out that there were people still inside busy as beavers, terrorists from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. So the blast, bingo, eliminated them too, about 20 of them, half sent directly to their 72 virgins, the other half injured. 

I get conflicting numbers between the naked and the dead, but within Israel there’s a larger conflict going on even as we speak.

First, the world’s leading Islamic terrorist, Mahmoud Abbas, left his EU and US- funded multi-million dollar bunker to proclaim his outrage.

The Israelis, he said with a straight face, have no right to use deadly force against terrorists. Jews have no right to protect themselves…and according to that line of depraved thinking, New Yorkers are likewise open season as we saw from Tuesday’s ramming and shooting attack in Manhattan.

That is not news. We expect that from the man behind the Klinghoffer and Munich Olympics massacres.

But it is news when the IDF seems to explain that it never intended to hurt anyone. This has sparked controversy as it amounts to an apology.

Since when do we – meaning any sovereign nation – apologize for killing the enemy?

In fact it is a command that when he comes to kill you – which is what these tunnels are all about – you are to get up early and kill him first. In every other country, that’s a good day when even by accident you’ve taken out your attackers. Lucky shot.

But this is Israel and Israel is Jewish and old habits die slowly. Jews always apologize.

Some may remember Tom Wolfe’s “Radical Chic” article in New York Magazine. That was about a group of Black Panther types who attended Leonard Bernstein’s big shindig to celebrate Black Power. The (Liberal) Jews at the same soiree were blamed for everything – and apologized for everything. Everything!

Never mind that from the start the Jews were at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement.

So now there’s a flap within Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet. One says that the IDF was wrong to apologize; the other says, leave the IDF alone.

Criticism against the IDF will never come from me. But I must say this; the response comes across as pathetic…an uncalled for justification in the fog of war.

Sorry for what? Do they apologize to us? They give out candy and build statues to their murderers. They celebrate after they kill.

Sorry we got to them before they got to us?

Will there be parades in Gaza and Ramallah for the terrorist who committed bloodshed in Manhattan today?

Only we regret. I get it, we’re Jewish. We are supposed to be different. We are supposed to be better.

Maybe, as I’ve written elsewhere, we should be worse once in a while, and then maybe they’d leave us alone.

Or take it from our Book of Deuteronomy– “Your eye shall not pity them.”

Then came this British journalist who sprang this over coffee: “Must say, the Israelis have become awfully militaristic.”

The evidence, I explained, proves otherwise. But if so, it’s about damn time. I’ll take militaristic any day against 2,000 years of sitting-duck passivity.

Yes, I will take militaristic whenever it is between them and us.

Or to borrow from Patton:

“No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. You won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.”

Temple Mt. opens in stages amid terror probe

July 15, 2017

Temple Mt. opens in stages amid terror probe, DEBKAfile, July 15, 2017

Pressure on Israel from the Arab world to reopen Temple Mount and its mosques for Muslim prayer without delay has been strongly countered by the Israeli police and security authorities. They need more time to complete their investigation of the scene of the terror attack, Friday, July 14, in which two Israeli officers on guard were shot dead and a third injured. The three Israeli Arabs who committed the murders were shot dead in the subsequent firefight outside the Dome of the Rock.

The Israeli government also decided that the shrine, which is sacred to three monotheistic faiths, needs better security installed before it is judged safe for worship and visits.

On Saturday, Washington came to the aid of the investigation. Strongly condemning the “heartbreaking act of terror on Temple Mount,” the White House press secretary added: “The attack forced the government of Israel to temporarily close the Temple Mount/Haram al Sharif to conduct its investigation,” said the statement. “Israel has assured the world that it has no intention to alter the status of this holy site, a decision which the United States applauds and welcomes.”

Saturday night, the Netanyahu government Saturday nevertheless ordered Temple Mount opened Sunday “in stages” –  which gives the police and security authorities a little breathing space.

The police have been combing through the “scene of terror,” to reconstruct the crime and discover the secret arms caches hidden there. This undertaking is vast, complex and exceptionally sensitive.

The Temple Mount surface platform is 150,000 sq. meters in area with nine ancient open gates. It stands atop 13 historic periods of construction and destruction, each of which has left layer upon layer of mostly unexplored tunnels, pipes, caves, pits, shafts and debris. Even archeologists working there for decades and the clerical staff of the Waqf authority in charge of Muslim rites there can’t claim to have explored all the warrens hidden under the paved surface.

It is also suspected that there may be secret underground channels running under the Temple Mount wall and leading outside the compound.

The police are meanwhile keeping their cards very close to their vests. They have detained some Waqf officials on suspicion of a connection with the terrorists, without releasing figures, and discovered a quantity of firearms. But the cops, unfamiliar with this unique ancient site, don’t know what they will find. They are after information about the identities of the party which instructed them to hide the two rifles and pistols used by the terrorists and said when they should be handed over. In short, whether a terrorist network exists on Temple Mount.

Relatives of the three terrorists, who belonged to the same clan in the Israeli Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, have been detained in search of information about how they came to perform the first act of terror by Moslems on Temple Mount. Most of the town and other parts of the Arab population are hostile to the investigation.

Israeli Arab community leaders, including their 13 parliamentarians, have refused to condemn the attack, willing only to voice regret for all the deaths inflicted Friday, including the three assailants.

This was resented not only by Israelis at large, but most bitterly by the Druze community, which buried two of its sons, Hail Stawi, 30, from Maghar and Kamil Shanan, 22, from Hurfeish both in northern Israel. They were shot to death while guarding the holy site.

The Temple terror investigation has exposed troubling animosities in Israeli Arab society.

Egyptian general who oversaw destruction of Gaza tunnels assassinated

October 23, 2016

Egyptian general who oversaw destruction of Gaza tunnels assassinated, Jerusalem Post, Jacob Wirtschafter, October 23, 2016

(The Obama administration again complains that “good” counterterrorism – the type that CAIR and other Islamist groups like – “requires political reform that gives all legitimate stakeholders in the Middle East a voice in their governance, including peaceful Islamist parties.” Three cheers for CAIR, the Muslim Brotherhood and their friends. — DM)


A top Egyptian officer was gunned down in front of his home north of Cairo just after dawn Saturday in another sign of the increasing conflict between the government and its opponents – both armed and unarmed.

The Lewaa Al-Thawra (Revolution Brigade) claimed responsibility for the assassination of Major Adel Ragaai, head of the Egyptian Ninth Amour Division – the unit charged with destroying the tunnels running between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.

“Major Adel Ragaai was killed in front of his house in Obour City (25km. northeast of Cairo) as he was leaving for work,” said army spokesman Brigadier General Mohamed Samir. “Two bullets pierced his head.”

The Brigade made its debut in August with an ambush on a police checkpoint in Sadat City – an attack that killed two and injured five others, including two civilians.

Ragaai’s wife, Samia Zein Al-Abdeen, is a defense correspondent for the state-owned daily Al-Gomouria.

The newspaper quotes Al-Abdeen as saying she hurried outside when she heard a burst of gunfire from a private vehicle as it sped down their suburban street.

“From the discourse in their statements and the music in their propaganda videos it’s clear Lewaa Al-Thawra is closer in orientation to the Muslim Brotherhood than Islamic State,” said, Abdullah Kamal, an independent expert on jihadist groups in Egypt.

Ragaai’s death is the first political assassination of a military figure since former President Mohamed Morsi was removed from office by Egypt’s military in 2013.

Since that year, the Egyptian military has destroyed more than one thousand smuggling tunnels, a key lifeline for what remains of the private sector in the Gaza strip.

The tunnels also serve as a conduit for a busy cross-border arms trade that provides revenue and ammunition for the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

Ragaai oversaw a massive operation that began last year to dig a canal parallel to the Rafah border, flooding the frontier with sea water which seeps into the tunnels, preventing their use. Hamas officials in the town of Rafah complain that Gaza’s limited fresh water aquifer is being rendered undrinkable as well.

Ragaai ‘s assassination was preceded by an attack on security personnel in nearby Al-Arish Friday.

The Interior Ministry said two police officers were killed as their vehicle ran over an improvised explosive device.

But security officials were eager to point out that they are on the offensive in the pocket of the northern Sinai where most incidents of Islamist violence are concentrated.

“Our forces killed 21 terrorists, destroyed over twenty of their hideouts and were able to locate and disable 16 IEDs before harm came to our men,” said an Interior Ministry spokesman.

The battle against the Muslim Brotherhood has intensified in Egypt’s courts as well.

Cairo’s Court of Cassation rejected an appeal Saturday by the ousted former president Morsi against a 20-year prison sentence for a 2012 incident that the state charges led to the deaths of 10 people in clashes outside the Ittihadiya Presidential Palace.

The Ittihadiya case is one of several indictments still pending against Morsi which include charges of espionage on behalf of Qatar and of organizing a jailbreak in conjunction with Hamas.

Last week, Attorney General Nabil Sadek obtained arrest warrants for an undisclosed number of Muslim Brotherhood members in Nasser City, charging them with “forming cells that planned to collect sugar from the Egyptian market and engaging in economic sabotage.”

Egypt’s Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics reports that annual inflation is the highest it’s been in nine years and foodstuffs ranging from sugar to baby formula to cheese have become scarce on the shelves as suppliers are unable to find foreign currency to pay for the products.

An intensified American critique of the Egyptian security state’s battle against the Brotherhood is adding to the headaches of the top brass in Cairo.

Tom Malinowski, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, told a forum at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on Friday that “the worst counter-terrorism strategy ever invented is Egypt’s mass incarceration of thousands of peaceful activists and opposition supporters right alongside the most hardcore terrorists.”

“We need to cooperate with countries in the region, including with Egypt, to share information about terrorist groups and plots so we can stop attacks before they happen,” Malinowski added. “But it is important that we not confuse good counter-terrorism cooperation with good counter-terrorism.”

“The former is necessary, but a finger in the dike. The latter – effective counter-terrorism — is what prevents the flood. It requires political reform that gives all legitimate stakeholders in the Middle East a voice in their governance, including peaceful Islamist parties.”

Lebanese ‘Al-Safir’ Daily Marks 16th Anniversary Of Israel’s Withdrawal From South Lebanon: Hizbullah Is Digging Tunnels On Israel Border

May 26, 2016

Lebanese ‘Al-Safir’ Daily Marks 16th Anniversary Of Israel’s Withdrawal From South Lebanon: Hizbullah Is Digging Tunnels On Israel Border, MEMRI, May 25, 2915

On May 25, 2016, the Lebanese daily Al-Safir, which is known for its support for Hizbullah, published a front- page article celebrating “Liberation Day,” i.e. the 16th anniversary of Israel’s withdrawal from South Lebanon. The article, which appears without a byline, analyzes the current situation of Hizbullah (which it calls “the resistance”) as well as its combative actions on the Syrian and Israeli fronts. It claims that this year’s Liberation Day celebrations are mixed with heartbreak for Hizbullah supporters, due to the large number of Hizbullah casualties in the Syria war. It adds that in its fight in Syria, Hizbullah currently faces the toughest challenge since its establishment, greater even than its conflict against Israel, because the price thus far paid by Hizbullah in this war – both in capabilities and casualties – is unprecedented, and no solution in Syria is on the horizon.

The article assesses that Hizbullah may expand its theater of operations even further in the future, in response to new challenges, and that this will turn it into a “regional power” that “formulates new equations in the region.”

Adding that alongside its fighting in Syria, Hizbullah is continuing its activity against Israel, the article also reports that resistance fighters work day and night along the Israeli border, “conducting observations, preparing, and digging tunnels that cause the settlers and enemy soldiers to lose sleep.” It also states that in fighting “tafkiri organizations,” Hizbullah has encountered an enemy that excavates tunnels, after becoming accustomed to being the only one digging them; in fact, it was Hizbullah that taught other resistance fighters, particularly Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, the tunnel doctrine.[1]

The following are excerpts from the article:[2]

28169Funeral of Hizbullah fighters killed in Syria (image:

“[Since its founding], the resistance [i.e. Hizbullah] never found itself deployed on several fronts and facing more than one challenge and more than one danger at once [as is happening today]. These four years since it became involved in the war in Syria represent the greatest trial it has [ever] faced… The movement has never paid in flesh, blood and abilities as it has paid [during the Syria war] and as it may continue to pay in the future, in the open confrontation with the takfiri [groups, i.e. the groups fighting against the Assad regime in Syria].[3] [So far] over 1,000 [fighters] have died and thousands have been wounded and disabled, and many others may meet [the same fate] in the ever-expanding confrontation that is becoming more difficult and more aggressive every day. This, especially since the horizon of a political solution seems to have been eliminated for the foreseeable future.

“Amid all this comes the 16th [anniversary] of the liberation [of South Lebanon], which underscores an element that Israel cannot ignore, namely the strengthening of the security and stability equation on both sides of the Palestine-Lebanon border. [This is] thanks to the deterrence system, or more accurately the balance of terror, which is an equation that has turned South Lebanon into the most secure region in the entire Middle East. Though we must not ignore other factors, no less important, [that contribute to this security], including [UN] Resolution 1701, UNIFIL and the Lebanese army.

“The celebrations of liberty are held amid heartbreak mixed with joy. Heartbreak [at the sight of] the processions of martyrs crossing the boundary south of the Litani every day [i.e. bodies of Hizbullah fighters killed in Syria being returned to Lebanon for burial], and joy [at the sight of] the processions [of people] rejoicing over [Hizbullah’s victory in some of] the local elections [that have been held in Lebanon in recent weeks]…

“The heartbreak over the martyrs is a necessary tax [that must be paid] in the struggle, [a struggle] which the Lebanese, of all sectors, regard as existential, even though they are divided on whether the preemptive war against the terrorists outside the borders of the homeland is justified. This heartbreak is present in every home in South [Lebanon]… When Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah speaks at Liberation Day ceremonies [today] in the town of Al-Nabi Shayth in the Bekaa [Valley], he will be speaking to a public that has contributed to the resistance [by supporting Hizbullah’s activity in Syria] just as residents of the South have contributed [in fighting against Israel], and perhaps even more, since [Bekaa Valley residents] face a danger today on their eastern border that is just as bad as the Israeli danger.

“It is right to say that the men of resistance on the eastern border complement the mission of the first men of resistance [who operate against Israel], who work day and night [along the border, from] the last border point in Al-Naquora to [the one in] Kfar Shouba, conducting observations, preparing, and digging tunnels that cause the settlers and enemy soldiers to lose sleep. [All this they do] without abandoning the [other] tasks of the resistance, which stands ready, openly and secretly, throughout Lebanon, and especially in the Southern Dahiya, in order to prevent any terrorist attack by the takfiris, in full coordination with the Lebanese army and Lebanon’s other security apparatuses. There might be further expansion of Hizbullah’s battle front, in accordance with future challenges, and this expansion turns this Lebanese group [Hizbullah], which was established 34 years ago in Sheikh ‘Abdallah’s base in Baalbek, into a regional force that formulates new equations in the region…

“In all of its rounds of fighting with the Israeli enemy, the resistance never faced what it has been facing for years in confronting the dark [elements] armed with the Prophet Muhammad’s Koran and Sunnah, who receive funding from tyrannical regimes and innumerable intelligence apparatuses, and are armed with military [equipment] that only armies possess.”

“The resistance also never experienced a four-year war in an area several times larger than Lebanon [itself]. It never experienced [war] against groups that imitate its methods and ways of warfare, but [who] instead of blowing themselves up against an Israeli convoy terrorize innocent people in the cities and villages, without batting an eyelash, as happened in the southern Dahiya or yesterday in Tartus and Jableh.

“The resistance never experienced war against groups fighting in caves and in the hills, mountains, wadis and even deserts, as happened at Tadmor and in the rural areas of Homs and Aleppo… Before [the war with Syria], the resistance did not storm cities and did not fight armies deep in the mountains.  Before this, no one lay in wait for it in tunnels like the ones that only it used to excavate, and [the doctrine of which] it spread to the rest of the men of the resistance, particularly to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

“All these have been the unique characteristics of the resistance throughout the 16 years since May 25, 2000. All these [characteristics] and others will cause Hassan Nasrallah to declare that defending the achievement of liberation will end only with the defeat of the terrorists…”


[1] Regarding the issue of the tunnels, it should be noted that Ibrahim Al-Amin, chairman of the board of the Lebanese dailyAl-Akhbar, wrote in a January 13, 2014 article that Hamas members fighting in Syria, in the Al-Quseir area and other regions, had dug tunnels there, similar to the ones excavated by Hamas in Gaza. He explained that Hizbullah had taught Hamas to dig these tunnels in the days when the two organizations were cooperating in smuggling arms into Gaza and preparing military plans against Israel.

[2] Al-Safir (Lebanon), May 25, 2016.

[3] Hizbullah, like the Syrian regime, does not draw a distinction between the rebels and the Salafi-jihadi groups.

Israel’s Tunnel-Detection Success Poses Hard Choice for Hamas

May 6, 2016

Israel’s Tunnel-Detection Success Poses Hard Choice for Hamas, Investigative Project on Terrorism, Yaakov Lappin, May 6, 2016


In late March, we reported that pressure was building within the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, which could lead to a new round of fighting with Israel.

In recent days, violence out of Gaza has indeed escalated significantly, and the trigger has been a succession of breakthroughs in the Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) ability to detect cross-border assault tunnels that threaten Israel’s south.

On Thursday morning, the IDF announced that it had found a tunnel 30 meters (98 feet) underground that reached into southern Israel, not far from where the IDF used new breakthrough technology to locate another tunnel in April.

Realizing it is about to lose its most prized offensive weapon against Israel – the ability to inject murder squads in Israeli territory though tunnels – Hamas’s military wing decided to do something it has not done in almost two years. It began a succession of cross-border mortar attacks in the vicinity, with a view to disrupting the detection work, and more importantly, to signal to Israel that Hamas is willing to risk war over its tunnel program.

Hamas’s attacks began on Tuesday with small arms fire and a mortar attack on IDF unit near southern Gaza carrying out engineering tunnel detection work. It escalated on Wednesday, as units came closer to locating the tunnel, resulting in multiple mortar attacks, and Israeli retaliatory tank and air strikes.

By Thursday morning, the IDF located its latest tunnel, sending home the message to Hamas’s military wing that the days in which it could dig subterranean structures under the border into Israel are drawing to a close.

Hamas persisted in mortar attacks, which at this stage appear to be missing Israeli forces deliberately, sparking yet more tank and Air Force replies by Israel.

“We view this technological, intelligence, and operational effort as a success. We can say that this tunnel is a violation of our sovereignty,” a senior IDF source said on Thursday.

According to the source, Hamas’s attempts to tell Israel to stop destroying its tunnel program are in vain.

“We are determined to continue with these efforts, and understand that we must focus in these areas,” he added.

Looking ahead, two principal scenarios could unfold in the coming days and weeks. The first possibility is that Hamas’s military wing does not back down from its so-called red line, and continues to back up its call for Israel to cease tunnel-detection work with cross-border fire. In such a scenario, Israel would be hard-pressed to contain a resumption of the reality that existed in the south prior to the 2014 conflict with Hamas. A resulting security escalation would rapidly grow in scope, and the IDF would quickly have to implement plans to destroy the military wing’s offensive capabilities.

This development would result in a major new conflict, which could end with only Hamas’s political wing remaining intact, as well as the Islamist regime’s domestic police force.

Unlike previous rounds of fighting, Israel this time may be determined to destroy Hamas’s 20,000-strong military wing, including the 5,000-member Nuhba elite force (which is trained to cross into Israel via the tunnels).

In essence, Hamas needs to choose between backing down from its stance on Israel’s tunnel detection, and watching its trump card blow away, or risk the existence of its military wing.

Should it choose the latter, it would comply with the wishes of Hamas’s political wing, which is less eager to provoke a military confrontation with Israel so soon after the 2014 war.

“Operation Protective Edge” was the most intensive conflict ever experienced by Hamas.

The two-month war left a deep imprint on Hamas. It challenged Hamas to a far greater extent than any previous military clash with Israel since Hamas seized power in Gaza in 2007. It was exposed to the most sustained and accurate Israeli firepower in its history, and lost more of its operatives in battle than any previous time (although it had also never achieved this level of capabilities before 2014). Hamas is still in the midst of rebuilding its rocket arsenals, rebuilding tunnels, and constructing drones, as well as assembling a naval terrorist intrusion unit. Gaza’s long suffering civilian population, under the grip of its Islamist jihadist rulers, may not wish to stomach a new war so soon.

The fact that, until now, Hamas has not fired a single projectile or bullet at Israel indicates that it understood that Israel is not prepared to seek containment as a response to ongoing cross-border fire.

These factors could be enough to deter Hamas from continuing to escalate the situation further.

The coming days will reveal what Hamas chooses. None of its options are attractive. Ultimately, its choice is between fighting for its tunnels, and risking its existence as an Islamist fighting force, complete with brigades, battalions, and command and control capabilities, thousands of rockets, and many thousands of anti-tank missiles and RPGs, or backing down.

‘Tunnel war’ heralds Hamas-IDF next clash

May 6, 2016

‘Tunnel war’ heralds Hamas-IDF next clash, DEBKAfile, May 6, 2016


The IDF and Hamas are engaged in another round of warfare both above and below ground. The two sides are exchanging fire in the Gaza border area while the IDF continues its operations to locate the terror tunnels of the Hamas military wing. The IDF did the correct thing on Thursday by declaring areas near Gaza with suspected  tunnels as “closed military zones”, amid concern that Hamas has already infiltrated into Israeli territory, even as training exercises. It is also important that the IDF is maintaining secrecy on the technological tools being used to locate the tunnels.

The exchanges of fire between the IDF and Hamas in the Gaza border area during the last few days have rattled the terrorist organization, making it fire mortar shells, rockets and light weapons at IDF forces in the area. The firing that intensifies each time that the troops approach a tunnel is helping the IDF locate the openings of the tunnels.

More than a year after the end of “Operation Protective Edge” in 2014, which was supposed to eliminate the threat of tunnels to southern Israel and restore calm among citizens, the Israeli government finally ordered the Defense Ministry and the IDF to listen to the complaints of Gaza border area residents, and to what was happening beneath the ground.

The noises from underground that were recorded over the last few months by frightened residents in the area’s communities and the shaking of the ground at night left no doubt that the digging was taking place nearby. In order to eradicate in  order to end the tunnel threat. IDF experts tested hundreds of devices, ideas, methods and means from various fields of research, including some that could be defined as bizarre.  Many new tunnels were been discovered with the help of hitherto untested technologies.

This with the human sources of intelligence like Mohammad Atauna, a commander in the Hamas tunnel network whose capture by Israeli intelligence was published on Thursday, could lead to the elimination of the tunnels in the coming days and weeks. All of these developments have made it clear to the heads of the military wing of Hamas, the Izzudin al-Qassam brigades, among whom only some follow the orders of the Hamas leadership and its political wing, that their biggest strategic asset, the tunnels, may disappear in the very near future. Whether the process takes a month or six months, it should now be very obvious to them that in the very near future the majority of the underground Hamas infrastructure will be destroyed, whether by explosives or flooding.

Since the heads of the Hamas military wing invested most of their budget and efforts in the digging, fortification and reinforcement of the tunnels that they planned to use to invade and attack Israel, the destruction of the underground network may have three main results:

1. In the coming days, the Hamas military wing may lash out in a desperate attempt to land a major blow against Israel. It is expected to be significantly weakened by the IDF operations in the near future but regain strength in the long term.

2. The military wing of Hamas will suffer a major defeat in the battle for popular support. The dire economic situation in Gaza that is partially due to the diversion of resources to the tunnels and other military means will weaken support among the public.

3. These developments will bring about a change in the balance of forces in Gaza that will benefit the political wing and weaken the military wing.

Under these circumstances, the desire by the head of the Izzuddin al-Qassam brigades, Mohammed Deif, who was seriously injured but is still alive and kicking, to get revenge against Israel has not been forgotten in IDF command in Tel Aviv and at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem. The assessment in Israel’s intelligence community is that in the coming days he will use all the means at his disposal, with or without the permission of the political wing, and just before his last tunnels are discovered, in an attempt to launch a strike to deal a powerful and painful blow to Israel.

In the meantime, on Thursday, the IDF continued its preparations to bombard Hamas from the ground and the air as the terrorist organization’s mortar shelling increases.

Shin Bet gleans vast tunnel data from Hamas member

May 5, 2016

Shin Bet gleans vast tunnel data from Hamas member, Jerusalem Post, Yaakov Lappin, May 5, 2016

(Video at the link. — DM)

The Shin Bet Intelligence agency announced on Thursday that it had obtained a treasure trove of information after capturing a Hamas member who snuck into Israel with the intention of killing Israelis in April.

Mahmoud Atauna, 29, of Jabaliya in Gaza, was arrested on April 16 after infiltrating Israel. He was in possession of two knives, and during subsequent questioning, “it emerged that he intended to murder soldiers or civilians that he happened to encounter in Israeli territory,” said the Shin Bet.

The investigation also resulted in much information being gleaned about Hamas’s tunnel activities, the agency added. Atauna was involved in the military wing’s activities, including planting bombs against IDF forces, and mostly, in tunnel activities during recent years.

“Atauna told his interrogators much about the physical features of tunnels in northern Gaza, about techniques used by Hamas in digging them, and the use of private homes and institutions by Hamas, from which it digs the tunnels. He also provided information on the means and materials Hamas uses,” the Shin Bet said.

“During questioning, Atauna pointed to many digging centers, and to tunnel shafts that are supposed to serve the Nuhba (Hamas’s elite unit) operatives for attacks during fighting with Israel,” it stated.

“Atauna said Hamas set up a network of tunnels branching out in Gaza for the passage of fighters and weapons. The tunnel network includes waiting rooms and has showers and dining tables, to improve the living conditions of Hamas fighters,” according to the Shin Bet.

The Izzadin Al-Kassam member provided the names of “many operatives who worked with him in the eastern battalion of Hamas’s northern brigade, and received information on the use of hospitals and civilians for the storage of weapons.” The investigation also revealed that Atauna’s home was a storage center for many weapons, including bombs, assault rifles, and suicide bomb vests, which he was supposed to distribute before a conflict broke out.

“Atauna is one of a series of military Hamas members who are under Shin Bet investigation at this time, and these investigations have revealed a lot of internal information on Hamas’s activities in tunnels,” the Shin Bet said.

Southern District prosecutors have charged the suspect at the Beersheva District Court.

New Palestinian pact-for-terror

April 25, 2016

New Palestinian pact-for-terror, DEBKAfile, April 25, 2016


Israel embarked on a P. R. campaign to play down the extent of the threat which surfaced in one day in the discovery of Hamas tunnel near Kibbutz Sufa, and the suicide bombing of Jerusalem bus No. 12 on April 18, with 20 people injured. The police initially claimed for example that the explosion was due to a technical problem with the engine. But the two developments actually represented a sharp and serious escalation of the Palestinian wave of terror against Israel.

Neither of the operations was carried out by “lone wolves” but rather by large terror networks. The secret tunnel discovered in the Gaza border area was built by the Hamas military wing, the Izaddin al-Qassam brigades, while the suicide bombing in Jerusalem was carried out by the Hamas infrastructure in Judea and Samaria, specifically its operatives in the Bethlehem area.

Each of these terror networks poses a different challenge to Israel.

In Gaza, the Hamas political leadership is no longer in contact with the heads of its military wing. Neither the top commanders nor the regional commanders of the brigades obey any Hamas political body. They only heed three sources:

1. The Hamas military command framework headed by Mohammad Deif and Marwan Issa.

2. Iranian or Hizballah intelligence services, which maintain contacts with them and often provide funds or weapons.

3. The ISIS affiliate in the Sinai, with which the Hamas military wing maintains operational ties.

There is an equally serious problem in Judea and Samaria. Over the past few weeks, the Hamas terror networks have started to make contact with sleeper cells from Fatah’s Tanzim paramilitary force that have the knowledge, ability, means and experience for major terrorist attacks against Israel, such as the Jerusalem bus bombing.

This dormant wing of Mohammad Abbas’s Fatah has began to show signs of life and willingness to return to the path of terror.

These contacts began immediately after publication of a letter from jailed Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti to members of the force that called on them to start coordinating their operations against Israel with Hamas. Nobody has bothered to explain how a senior terrorist jailed in a high-security Israeli prison succeeded in smuggling such a letter out.

The link between part of the Tanzim and the Hamas terror networks is no less dangerous than the tunnel discovered near Kibbutz Sufa, and it presages an escalation of terror operations in the future.

The only way to prevent a major deterioration of the security situation is to strike targets of the Izzadin al-Qassam brigades. There is no need to launch a total war against Hamas or to occupy Gaza.

But instead of responding as needed, Israel’s government and security establishment have released pictures of digging equipment that has finally succeeded in locating a single Hamas infiltration tunnel out of the many that exist, and claimed that those responsible for the Jerusalem bombing have yet to be identified. At the same time, senior officials and IDF officers continue to assert that Hamas is not seeking escalation.

Unfortunately, this can only mean a resurgence of the wave of terror.