South Leaders Say Renewed Tunnel Digging Means War

Residents of Gaza Belt demand government action as Hamas restarts digging, warn of regional desertion and loss of faith in government.

Ari Yashar,

IDF soldiers in Hamas terror tunnel (file)
IDF soldiers in Hamas terror tunnel (file)
Flash 90

Leaders and residents of the south expressed frustration at the government, after a senior diplomatic source revealed assessments on Sunday showing that despite the ceasefire Hamas has restarted construction of rockets and terror tunnels to attack Israeli civilians in the region.

"Continued tunnel digging towards our communities is a cause for war," Hof Ashkelon Regional Council head Yair Farjoun told Yedioth Aharonoth, calling on the government to take decisive action against the threat on his constituents. 

The talk of war comes after a controversial ceasefire was reached on August 26 by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu despite opposition in the Security Cabinet. Polls after the ceasefire found 54% of the public opposed it, and further found Netanyahu's approval had sunk from 82% at the height of the operation to a paltry 32%.

Residents of the Gaza Belt region told Yedioth Aharonoth about the fears they have knowing that even after 50-day Operation Protective Edge their security still has not been returned, and the Hamas terrorist group remains a looming threat.

"We weren't surprised. We knew they didn't do the job. What, we don't know Hamas? Even the children know what's happening," remarked Daniel Matari of Kerem Shalom. "We are preparing for the worst and staying vigilant. ...We rely on the army, not so much on the government."

Danny Cohen of Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha conferred with the negative assessment of the government, adding "there's a great disappointment in how they treated the residents during the operation."

Many have complained over the repeated ceasefires reached with Hamas throughout the operation. MK Danny Danon (Likud) noted "on July 15, the Cabinet gambled and agreed to a ceasefire without damaging the terror tunnels," pointing out how the government was willing to seal ceasefires even while leaving its citizens under a lethal threat - or possibly worse, was unaware of the threat.

Another resident of the south who spoke to the Israeli news source was Batya Holin, a resident of Kibbutz Kfar Aza and a worker at the "Or" movement for construction in the Negev.

Holin noted that the revelation of renewed terrorist activity "can push out those who had doubts whether to stay and live in (the Gaza) Belt or not to. It will be impossible to convince citizens to stay in their communities when the threat of the tunnels is still floating in the air."

"The 'Or' movement in these very days is advancing a project to build 40 new housing units in Kibbutz Nahal Oz," added Holin, noting the town where a four-year-old boy was tragically killed in the operation. "I don't see how we'll bring families there in a situation like this."

While over 30 terror tunnels were destroyed in the operation, more may remain as yet undiscovered, and with renewed construction the return of the threat appears to be a matter of time.

The tunnels were used lethally against the IDF in the operation, and it was revealed that Hamas planned to use them to launch a massive massacre on Gaza Belt communities on Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.




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