The recent discovery of a 1.7-kilometer terror tunnel extending from Gaza to the western Negev kibbutz of Ein Hashlosha in the Eshkol region, near the Gaza border, demonstrates the serious security threat faced by Israel and its need to remain on high alert.

The tunnel was capable of transferring several hostages quickly to Gaza and was clearly meant for kidnappings and terror attacks, according to IDF and defense ministry spokesmen.

The IDF destroyed the tunnel.

“The determination deep in the hearts and minds of resistance fighters is more important than tunnels dug in the mud,” a Hamas spokesman commented on Twitter.

According to media reports, residents of Ein Hashlosha heard the digging near a kindergarten and alerted the IDF.

“I would like to praise the soldiers of the IDF for uncovering the terrorist tunnel from Gaza. This is part of our policy – an aggressive policy against terrorism, including preventive action, intelligence, initiated action, responsive action and, of course, Operation Pillar of Defense,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared. “The combination of all these actions and our policy has led to the fact that this year has been the quietest in over a decade. However, we have witnessed an increase in terrorist actions in recent weeks.”

He was referring to a recent spate of terror. In September, two soldiers were murdered in Judea and Samaria; last weekend, a terrorist stabbed a nine-year-old girl, also from that area, who managed to escape and who recovered from the incident; and on Friday a 61-year-old retired IDF colonel was brutally murdered at his home in the Jordan Valley.

“We received a reminder that terrorism exists and that it could erupt at any moment,”

Member of Knesset Omer Bar-Lev said, urging the IDF to maintain troops guarding 22 communities on the northern and southern borders.

Eshkol Regional Council head Haim Yalin said the discovery prevented a disaster. He had warned against an IDF decision in September to replace troops guarding 22 communities in the north and south with technology and other means.  He said there is no substitute for soldiers who defend border communities and who offer residents living near Hamas-controlled territory a feeling of security.

“The minute there is an infiltration by terrorists, people will go to the heads of local councils and ask why we allowed the soldiers to leave,” Yalin was quoted as saying last month in the Jerusalem Post. “We live here and breathe the air; we understand the threats. We know the threats posed by fog and the dangers posed by farmers who work near the Gaza border.”

“The discovery of this terror tunnel on the Gaza border serves as additional proof that the Hamas terror organization, despite the ceasefire that it has been coerced into by IDF deterrence, continues to prepare itself for a confrontation with the state of Israel and to carry out terror attacks whenever possible,” Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon stated.

Following the discovery, Ya’alon issued an order to prevent the entry of construction materials into Gaza.

“We will continue to act with determination, responsibility and thoughtfulness to defend Israel and its citizens, and we will respond aggressively against anyone who tries to hurt them,” he said.

Author: Atara Beck, staff writer for United with Israel
Date: October 13, 2013