Ismail Haniyeh
Ismail Haniyeh Reuters

Hamas is no longer denying that it is rebuilding its terrorist tunnel infrastructure.

On Friday, Hamas deputy leader Ismail Haniyeh publicly confirmed the group is developing its military capabilities and rebuilding the underground tunnels leading from Gaza to Israel in preparation for a future conflict, reported Haaretz.

Haniyeh made the comments as part of his weekly sermon at the end of Friday prayers in Gaza and ahead of a funeral for seven Hamas terrorists who were killed this week when a tunnel collapsed in northern Gaza.

"There are those who think that the calm is a time of rest," Haniyeh said, according to Haaretz. "But this is a continuation of the struggle. Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades are working and preparing for Palestine. Fighters are digging twice as much as the number of tunnels dug in Vietnam."

"In east Gaza there are heroes digging tunnels under the ground and in the west there are those testing rockets. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades are digging tunnels to defend Gaza and turn it into a launch pad for all of Palestine," he declared.

Haniyeh also praised Gaza steadfastness "thanks to the patience of the Strip's residents and despite the siege and war and schemes against Gaza. I tell all those who are doubtful at our resilience: forgo this logic. We are prepared to go without bread and without water, but we will not live without respect."

Hamas has been working feverishly to rebuild its infiltration tunnel network into Israel, after the IDF destroyed the network during Operation Protective Edge in 2014.

According to some estimates Hamas has already succeeded in digging tunnels into Israel sovereign territory once again, using materials sent by international donors which were earmarked for rebuilding Gaza's civilian infrastructure damaged during the war.

As recently as last summer, one year after Protective Edge, Hamas released a video clip showing its terrorist fighters training for attacks against Israel inside terror tunnels.

In the video, the terrorists of the so-called "tunnel unit" were seen practicing organized action, infiltration, attacking Israel military and civilian targets and evacuation of the wounded.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)