In an attempt to protect their secrets from being revealed to the Israeli security forces, Hamas has executed tens of Gazan tunnel diggers in the last few weeks. The mass execution is said to have taken place after attempts from Hamas to make sure that the excavators knew nothing of the locations in which they were digging.
According to the Israeli website Mako, extreme precautions were used by Hamas.
“They would take the diggers, about a hundred men, in vans with blindfolds so that they wouldn’t know the location of the tunnels and at the end of the day would blindfold them again and return them to their homes,” claims a source in Gaza familiar with the tunnel industry. “They feared that maybe one of them was collaborating with Israel.”
The tunnels were guarded by Hamas, via its military wing and commando units which were created in the last two years, and citizens were prevented entry as the whole process was done in the utmost secrecy. It appears, however, that Hamas may have been correct in assuming that some of the experienced terror-tunnel diggers, mostly from the Rafah and Khan Younis areas, were double agents.
According to M., a former tunnel digger and Israeli collaborator, the extent to which Hamas was willing to go to protect its secrets grew immensly due to the concern that information was being transferred to the Israeli Intelligence forces. Thus, the Hamas terrorists were always masked so that they could not be recognized by the excavators and the latter would go through daily strip searches to ensure that they were not wearing recording devices or hidden cameras. “They knew Israel was constantly tailing them and didn’t want to risk it,” he says.
Diggers worked on average between 8-12 hours with breaks and received a monthly wage of $150-$300. Most tunnels were built under civilian homes, chicken coops and pens which were located about two kilometers away from the border with the Gaza strip. Once they were done digging, Hamas executed dozens of the tunnel diggers who were suspected collaborators with Israel.
“They were very cruel,” the Gazan source added. “They annihilated some of the diggers because there was a rumor circulating that a few of them had worked with Israel or had been in touch with Israeli civilians. They feared that Israel would know the location of the tunnels and who was involved in their making”.
During Operation Protective Edge, the IDF along with the Israel Security Agency captured around 300 terrorists among whom were dozens of tunnel diggers.