The Al-Qassam Brigades announce the implementation of a landing operation behind Israeli lines and the killing of soldiers

Gaza tunnels…a “war of brains” started by Israel before Hamas

Exactly 10 years ago, in October 2022, the Israeli army announced the discovery of what it called “the first attack tunnel against Israel” in the Gaza Strip. This tunnel was 800 meters long, starting in the eastern neighborhood of Khan Yunis and extending 100 meters into Israeli areas, at a depth of 20 meters underground, and its width and height reached two meters.

However, the Israeli announcement regarding that tunnel did not include the discovery of traces of weapons or explosive devices, as had been the case with previous small tunnels that had been found to be booby-trapped. Military experts estimated that Hamas intended to use this tunnel for the purpose of “kidnapping Israeli soldiers.” A senior Israeli army field commander commented to the newspaper “Haaretz” that: “We will make them regret this enormous effort and plunge them into despair and frustration.” The Israeli army had already destroyed this tunnel at that time, as it had done with the previous one, and began to look for a way to eliminate the tunnels, and for this purpose a special military unit was established, which included a number of scientists, which was assigned the task of building modern electronic devices and sensors to discover the location of the tunnels and eliminate them, and when asked at the time, the commander of the Southern Brigade, Yoav Galant, said of this unit: “This is a war of brains between us and (Hamas), and we fight them with one goal, which is to defeat them.” Today Gallant has become Minister of Defense and the tunnels have spread far and wide in the Strip, to the point that they consider them the ” Tel Aviv’s F-35″ for “Hamas”, referring to the American aircraft with superior capabilities. But in a more modest estimate, they say it is “a nuclear reactor for terrorism”. Gallant still talks about “victory ”, but rather of annihilation.

An Israeli soldier guards the entrance to a tunnel from Gaza to Israeli settlements in 2018 (Reuters)

Over the last ten years the Israeli army has realized that it has not managed to eliminate the tunnel phenomenon, but rather it has increased and taken on a completely different form. Initially, it was built to allow Hamas fighters to repel Israeli ground attacks, then they surprised these forces by setting up ambushes, and then set the goal of kidnapping the soldiers.

They succeeded in 2014, when they launched the military operation “Cast Lead” and two soldiers who are still prisoners of “Hamas” were kidnapped, then Israel decided to build a huge wall along the border (65 kilometers), which extend above and below ground, and are therefore unable to penetrate the Israeli border.

However, it turned out that Hamas gave up the tunnels to penetrate the Israeli wall, which cost a billion dollars, and penetrated them with a tractor and a bulldozer, for which it paid a contractor $200. in the heart of the Gaza Strip and has begun to build a huge network of tunnels, which are said to be for military use, exists only in North Korea and the Israelis do not rule out, in turn, that North Korea is a partner in its planning, and not just Iran. Indeed, some of these tunnels have benefited from Israel’s own experience in the matter. In 1980, Israel itself built a ground floor under Al-Shifa hospital, in the heart of Gaza City, when it occupied the entire Strip.

“Underground Gaza”…and more

For the past decade, Israel has been busy monitoring tunnels from the Gaza Strip to the Israeli borders, and when it built the protective wall, it was reassured that it was able to destroy this idea. These tunnels were demolished and filled with a liquid substance that exploded when released and blocked off any empty areas within them. For reassurance, he took weapons out of the hands of Gaza Strip residents and reduced the number of watchtowers. But Hamas took advantage of this period to build a huge tunnel network inside the Strip, which has 1,300 tunnels, located at a depth of up to 70 meters underground and which, according to the Palestinians, are 500 kilometers long. However, Brigadier General Yaakov Nagel, the former head of the Israeli government’s National Security Council, says the tunnels are longer, perhaps thousands of kilometers. He added, during an interview with the Globes newspaper about two weeks ago, that “it’s more accurate if we’re talking about thousands of kilometers, and these tunnels were built in the style of North Korea, which is the fourth or fifth fortress military power in the world, and the Gaza tunnels are the largest network of its kind.” In the world after the North Korean network, it will be difficult to rely on the robot inside it, because the robot does not work so deep underground, and fighting inside the tunnels is almost impossible.”

Members of the Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad movement, guarding tunnels in the Gaza Strip last March (Getty)

However, the Israeli army claims to have “detailed maps of these tunnels”. He is preparing adequate plans to make it “a cemetery for Hamas leaders,” while the movement’s leaders claim that the tunnels “have witnessed great development in the last two years according to high technology that will shock Israel and make it a huge trap for its soldiers.” In any case, the tunnels have become one of the main news stories of this war: the leaders of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, with some 20,000 fighters and more, use them as an impregnable underground fortress, and Israel tries to strangle them to death inside them.

What is life like in the tunnels?

To say that “life” is in the Gaza tunnels is not accurate; Since this is not called life, its difficulties are many. However, these tunnels are no longer, as the name suggests, just long corridors with a low height and an earthen floor. What Hamas has built is another underground city called “Underground Gaza”. Some say there are “two Gaza Strips” underground; That is, there is a third city under another underground layer. Those who travel its streets find large places to rest, as happens in the bathrooms of petrol stations, and there are rooms for meetings and others for sleeping, equipped with everything necessary. It is equipped with a modern and advanced ventilation system and contains several warehouses for food, medicine and fuel. He operates an encrypted communications network that Israel has failed to dismantle, as evidenced by the fact that he trained for an entire year for the Israeli invasion (the Al-Aqsa flood) without the plan being discovered. Hamas cadres managing logistics are trained to meet various “resilience needs.”

Israeli soldiers walk through a tunnel discovered in 2013 near Gaza (AP)

Of course, those who live there do not enjoy a life of luxury, as is the case at the Israeli army headquarters, and certainly not like Hamas leaders abroad, and its employees suffer from difficult circumstances. Israel has prepared plans to make life unbearable and turn it into a huge trap for the men and leaders of Hamas. According to experts, Israel intends to flood the tunnels with a sticky substance that will swell and become solid as soon as it is released, thus closing the tunnel entrance as if a huge iron gate, several meters thick, were placed. Vacuum bombs (Vaccom) will be used to demolish them on the heads of those inside them, but Hamas and those who have helped it with this technology say they have taken all these considerations into account and are ready to fight and are challenging Israel through this.

Al-Shifa Complex

The Al-Shifa medical complex, located in the heart of Gaza City, has become a central target for the Israeli army under the pretext that it includes a ground floor and that the Hamas leadership has chosen it as its main headquarters. he saw it as “using the hospital and its patients as human shields to hide behind.” However, the truth that is not spoken about in Israel is the first: Israel itself establishes its headquarters in the heart of Tel Aviv, near residential buildings and Ichilov Hospital, one of Israel’s largest hospitals. The second fact they ignore is; It was Israel itself that took advantage of this headquarters (Al-Shifa complex) and since it occupied the Gaza Strip in 1967, it has used its facilities as a headquarters for the work of the military governor. In 1980, he built the ground floor to serve as a trench and refuge for the command, and continued to use it until the last day of his occupation, in 1994. The “Shifa Complex”, which was responsible for providing medical service to the 652 thousand Palestinians living in Gaza City, and thousands of other residents in the cities of the Strip, suffered from two things before this war: first; Because of the Israeli siege, and secondly; Due to the Hamas government not providing him with the medicines and medical instruments he needed, thousands of surgeries were postponed and patients were left without medicines, in addition to the struggle for access to electricity in light of the long and repeated interruptions and the loss of fuel that should keep electricity generators running to continue their work, all of which pose a direct threat to the lives of civilians inside the Strip.

Two children were injured following Israeli raids on Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital on October 17 (AP)

With Israel’s plan to empty the northern Gaza Strip and push the citizens south under the pretext of protecting them, around 100,000 people took refuge in the hospital when they discovered that Israel was bombing convoys of fugitives while they were in trip, and they have also bombed the southern areas that Israel deems safe, and now they are threatening to bomb the hospital and destroy it, under the pretext of accessing the tunnels under the hospital, which contain the Hamas leaders. In Israel it is said that what the government and army said about the presence of Hamas leaders in a trench under the hospital since the beginning of the war was enough, if true, to push them to leave and move to other areas , and believe that Israeli threats are simply “terrorism” for the population.

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