“Kidnapping soldiers is the only way to succeed against the (Israeli) occupation,” Abu Obeida, spokesman for the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s so called military wing in Gaza, declared, following the group’s admission that it had masterminded a huge terror tunnel recently discovered and subsequently destroyed by the IDF.
The release in October 2011 of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, which was celebrated in Gaza as “an historic victory” for Hamas, seems to have motivated the terrorist group to resume its kidnapping activities on a large scale.
The vast tunnel, extending more than 2.5 kilometers from Gaza to a kibbutz in the western Negev, was capable of holding several hostages at once. The discovery of the tunnel was made, in fact, near a kindergarten, shortly after Hamas had issued a warning that it was planning to kidnap more Israeli soldiers and to escalate terror.
Hamas’s confirmation that it had constructed the tunnel came a day after Ismail Haniyeh, the terror group’s leader in Gaza, had called for a new and massive intifada and lauded the recent upsurge in terror against Jews in Judea and Samaria.
“This tunnel was made by the hand of the fighters of al-Qassam, and they will not sleep in their efforts to hit the [Israeli] occupation and kidnap soldiers,” Hamas spokesman Abu Obeida told Hamas’s Al-Aqsa radio, according to media reports. “We are working on the ground and under the ground to release the [Palestinian] prisoners.”
Among those being held in Israeli jails are hardcore murderers with blood on their hands; in most cases, the victims were innocent civilians, including women and children. Other prisoners were convicted of planning or aiding acts of terror.
Meanwhile, on Friday, the Israeli army sent telephone and text messages to Gaza residents, informing them that the Hamas government was spending millions of dollars on terrorism at the expense of its citizens.
“This money should have gone to infrastructure, education and health projects,” the messages said.
Indeed, 500 tons of cement from Israel, sent to Gaza for humanitarian purposes, had been used for construction of the terror tunnel. Following international pressure, Israel had allowed the cement and other construction material into Gaza, despite suspicions that it would be used for terror purposes. The material was meant to assist in the rebuilding of Gaza residential neighborhoods that were damaged after being struck by Israel in defense of its southern communities, which were being targeted continuously by missiles from Gaza.
Israel halted the transfer of construction equipment to Gaza after discovery of the tunnel.
When the Palestinian Authority gained control of Gaza in 2005, after Israel’s unilateral withdrawal, the extraordinary infrastructure was intact, including, for example, impressive greenhouses that were developed with highly advanced technology, a plant nursery that had been Israel’s largest, and a large dairy. The Gaza population destroyed the buildings and agricultural groundwork and, in 2006, elected Hamas.
VIDEO: IDF Uncovers Hamas Terror Tunnel near Gaza Border
Author: Atara Beck, staff writer for United with Israel
Date: Oct 22, 2013