Tunnel shaft underneath a mosque
Tunnel shaft underneath a mosqueIDF Spokesperson's Unit

The IDF and the Israel Security Agency (ISA or Shin Bet) on Thursday exposed significant infrastructures belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization in Gaza, including terrorist tunnels intended to be used as hideouts for terrorists and for the transfer of weapons.

In a significant part of the infrastructure, as shown by aerial photographs, Hamas takes advantage of Gazans and hides the entry shafts of the tunnels underneath houses and public buildings, such as schools and mosques.

Choosing to place the shafts in these buildings is intended to disguise the tunnels and make it difficult to attack them. During combat, these objectives become legitimate military targets under international law.

The head of the IDF’s Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir, clarified that "we have intelligence. Anyone staying in these houses endangers himself and his family. Buildings used as cover for underground construction will become legitimate military targets."

As part of its combat strategy, Hamas continuously deploys itself in a civilian environment, directing its capabilities to hit the Israeli home front from those areas. This is done in order to try to make it difficult for the IDF to locate, attack and thwart the organization’s military infrastructure. As well, by exploiting the civilian population of Gaza, the terrorist organization seeks to undermine the legitimacy of the IDF and the State of Israel.

Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit

"This is the main effort of Hamas," said Maj. Gen. Zamir. "Our assessment is that there is deterrence, but at the same time Hamas continues to build up for the next battle. Our goal is to maintain calm, strengthen deterrence and give time to build our capabilities, but we understand that the situation can change at any moment – and we are prepared for such a change.”

As an example, the IDF has been able to accurately pinpoint six-story buildings in which a number of families live, and which have underground parking lots with entries to tunnels leading into Israeli territory.

"One structure within the Shati refugee camp was built in the last two years," Zamir said, stressing, "We have information about tunnels and when we decide to attack them we will do so."

"One of the buildings is the home of Omar Muhammad Mahmoud Hamad, a Hamas activist who lives with his father and brothers. The man is married with five children and inside the building where he lives in Beit Lahiya, there is an entry shaft and an underground infrastructure belonging to Hamas and which is connected to a nearby mosque," revealed Zamir.

He estimated that the barrier between Gaza and Israel will be completed within two years and, sending a clear message to Gaza, added, "This barrier was built entirely on our territory and therefore there is no justification for Hamas to harm it. Do not test us, we know a lot."

Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit